IRL: Nashville: Panoz G Force race report

Lebanon, TN, 17 July 2004 - The 200-lap battle for honors in the Firestone Indy 200 at the bumpy 1.33-mile concrete Nashville SuperSpeedway oval tonight showed the outright speed and resilience of the Panoz G ...

Lebanon, TN, 17 July 2004 - The 200-lap battle for honors in the Firestone Indy 200 at the bumpy 1.33-mile concrete Nashville SuperSpeedway oval tonight showed the outright speed and resilience of the Panoz G Force chassis.

Although unable to pick up victory, six of the top ten finishers amongst a field of 22 ran with the sole chassis designed and built in the United States.

Darren Manning earned fourth in the #10 Team Target Panoz F Force/Toyota/Firestone challenger, just .6439 seconds out of first place. The result matched his best finish (at Twin Ring Motegi) in the Briton's first year of IRL competition. "I had such a great car; I could run wherever I wanted and with 20 laps to go I went outside of everybody," making his way to the front.

Starting first for the fourth time this year in the #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda and fighting for the lead, Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner Buddy Rice had side-by-side contact that helped cause a final debris yellow - of seven cautions tonight. Rice led 52 laps en route to sixth place, even with the late stop to swap nosecones. On Monday, Rice and Rahal Letterman Racing become the first Indy car squad since 1991 (Rick Mears) to visit The White House and President Bush.

Making his first start in the #13 Access Motorsports Panoz G Force/Honda, rookie Mark Taylor battled cleanly from 18th to seventh place, followed by 2003 IndyCar Series champ Scott Dixon in the #1 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota (without a clutch since the first caution) and the #55 Quaker State/Telmex Panoz G Force/Honda of Adrian Fernandez. Rookie teammate Kosuke Matsuura, working without any radio communication rounded out the top ten in his #55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda.

A pit stop problem relegated lap-leader Vitor Meira (113) to 12th place in his #17 Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda, recording the fastest overall and fastest leader's lap in the 266-mile contest. Meira did complete the full 200-tour distance and reminded, "Everyone knew we had the car to beat." Tony Kanaan took the win over Sam Hornish Jr., with Helio Castroneves third.

This event begins a hot summer swing for the Indy cars making an inaugural visit to the 101-year-old Milwaukee Mile next Sunday for the Menards A.J. Foyt 225, which can be seen live at 3:30 EDT on ABC.

-panoz-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mark Taylor , Tony Kanaan , Rick Mears , Buddy Rice , Kosuke Matsuura , Vitor Meira