IRL: Texas II: Panoz G Force Friday report

Meira and Rice lead Panoz G Force drivers in Texas DENTON, TX, October 15, 2004 - It's down to the final race for the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series, but the competitors aren't ready to call it quits yet. While the series champion has been...

Meira and Rice lead Panoz G Force drivers in Texas

DENTON, TX, October 15, 2004 - It's down to the final race for the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series, but the competitors aren't ready to call it quits yet. While the series champion has been crowned, there are plenty of honors still up for grabs. Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner Buddy Rice is vying to take second in the point chase and his Rahal Letterman Racing teammate Vitor Meira wants to help take him there.

Meira lines up fourth for Sunday's Chevy 500K on the high banks of Texas Motor Speedway's 1.5-mile oval after turning 214.316mph in his #17 Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone challenger after a difficult qualifying session this afternoon.

Time trials were postponed by an hour after a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series crash held up the schedule and during that time the wind came up harder and the light changed dramatically.

Rice, who qualified right after Meira earned fifth on the 21-car grid with his lap of 214.194mph in the #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda. "The run was pretty good and Vitor and I are right together," Rice noted. "To be next to your teammate is good for us," Meira chimed in. "We are able to work together and we trust each other like you saw at Kansas.

"Our Panoz G Force is so good on these 1.5-mile tracks," Meira continued. "If we'd had the chance we might have changed the gearing to suit conditions more, but you can't predict the weather; it changed the track from one lap to the next.

Rice thought "the wind picked up more than we thought, but overall it was okay. I'm glad to be the fastest Hondas today but I'd like to be fastest Honda and Panoz G Force driver on Sunday. It would be nice to finish off with four wins; having the most wins of any driver and winning Indy would be great for our team."

Looking for Bombardier Rookie of the Year honors, Kosuke Matsuura is the highest place first year driver, albeit in 15th place with his #55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda. "Hopefully I will get a good result on Sunday," the Japanese driver said. "The Panoz G Force had good balance but the speed by myself was not fast enough this afternoon. I believe we can have a good finish on Sunday, when it counts."

The Indy cars will have two opportunities to fine-tune for the 300-mile, 200-lap finale on Sunday, when they have dual practices tomorrow. The Chevy 500K takes the green flags just before noon local time and airs live on ABC.

-emt-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buddy Rice , Kosuke Matsuura , Vitor Meira