Manning Moving Up With Panoz G Force Twin Ring Motegi, April 17, 2004 - On the day when Honda recorded their historic win at the Twin Ring Motegi 1.5-mile oval built to showcase the firm's Indy-style success, the top Panoz G Force...
Manning Moving Up With Panoz G Force
Twin Ring Motegi, April 17, 2004 - On the day when Honda recorded their historic win at the Twin Ring Motegi 1.5-mile oval built to showcase the firm's Indy-style success, the top Panoz G Force driver rode to fourth place with Toyota power. Darren Manning, a newcomer to the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series came from 10th on the grid in the #10 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota to gain fourth in points. With a sixth, fifth and now fourth-place result, Manning is learning the ropes quickly.
"We had such a good car today and I really felt like I could do everything I needed out there," Manning said. "I have been taking the first few races a little more conservative than I usually would but now I feel comfortable with the car and believe I'm ready to be more aggressive."
Teammate Scott Dixon finished fifth in the spare #1 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota, the 2003 IndyCar Series champion coming back from a nasty crash in Friday practice to gain a position from his starting slot. "It hasn't been the easiest race weekend," Dixon noted, "but when you come away with a fifth place finish, you take the points and move on to the next race." Dixon did have a sore left ankle after 200 laps.
Buddy Rice's #15 Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda was the final car on the lead lap, the Arizona native taking sixth place. While he was strong early in the race and felt he might be the one to bring the victory home for Honda, "It's a little disappointing because the car felt so good. I feel good about going to Indy after the way our car handled today."
Local driver Kosuke Matsuura delighted fans with his eighth place finish in the #55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda from Super Aguri Fernandez Racing. "I am happy because I was able to finish in eighth in front of a lot of fans," Matsuura admitted, "but on the other hand I am disappointed not to have a better result," due to minor contact with Sam Hornish Jr. that bent his right rear suspension.
This is the final IndyCar Series event using the 3.5-liter engine formula, and the new 3-liter era may necessitate chassis changes from the Indy Racing League by the time practice opens for the 88th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 9th. An open test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway later this month will help series officials firm up those plans.