IRL: Richmond: Panoz G Force qualifying report

Rice Nabs Third Straight Front Row Start For Panoz G Force RICHMOND, June 25, 2004 Storm cells caused scheduled dual practices to be condensed to less than 1.5 hours as the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series competitors prepared for their annual...

Rice Nabs Third Straight Front Row Start For Panoz G Force

RICHMOND, June 25, 2004 Storm cells caused scheduled dual practices to be condensed to less than 1.5 hours as the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series competitors prepared for their annual SunTrust Indy Challenge on the 3/4-mile Richmond International Raceway, yet all 22 drivers were all able to make their scheduled qualifying tours around the resurfaced bullring.

When time trials were complete, Buddy Rice took the outside front row slot in his #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone racer with a lap of 170.782mph, four-tenths behind polesitter Helio Castroneves. This marks Rice's third straight front row start for Rahal Letterman Racing and Panoz G Force.

"Panoz G Force really stepped it up on their short oval program and made a huge improvement," Rice said. "All that work in the wind tunnel is paying off; it's a huge jump for our program with the help of Panoz G Force. Our underbody is working much better with the new track surface and we've got more grip" than last year. "Set-up is key at this track and running flat is key to success with these cars," he remarked.

Last year's Richmond winner Scott Dixon qualified the #1 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota sixth tonight at 170.405mph and acknowledged, "We were flat both laps. We probably should have trimmed it out more but the lack of practice time hurt us. We decided to back it off a little so the car was not as nervous" as it might have been.

Vitor Meira's #17 Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda lines up eighth with a speed of 169.901mph. Meira "learned a lot about the track and the car from [teammate] Buddy," who went out earlier than he. "The car was good in Turns 1 and 2 but pushed a bit much in 3 and 4. This is an intense track and it will be a busy night for everybody," he said about tomorrow's 225-lap contest.

Proper racing weather is expected for tomorrow night's SunTrust Indy Challenge, which gets underway at 7:55PM EDT and is being telecast live in the United States by ESPN2.

-pgf-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Buddy Rice , Vitor Meira