Rice Leads Panoz G Force Qualifiers - Starts Third in Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland JOLIET, IL, 11 September 2004 - Qualifying for Sunday's Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Delphi Indy 300 on the 1.5-mile d-shaped ...
Rice Leads Panoz G Force Qualifiers - Starts Third in Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland
JOLIET, IL, 11 September 2004 - Qualifying for Sunday's Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Delphi Indy 300 on the 1.5-mile d-shaped Chicagoland Speedway oval yielded a third-place start for Buddy Rice and his Rahal Letterman Racing #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone championship challenger. Rice, the ninth driver to take a two-lap qualifying run under warm, mostly sunny conditions in this Chicago suburb produced a quick lap of 213.843mph to lead the seven-car Panoz G Force entrants.
The 2004 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner, who lies third in the point standings as the 2004 season heads into its home stretch insists, "We're doing the same things we've done all year with our Panoz G Force/Honda package. We're trying to catch back up to the Andretti Green guys but we're happy where we're at right now. We have a very good race car and that is what we are looking for on Sunday.
"The other guys have been making some gains so we're getting closer again. I think," Rice said, "that we're looking good in traffic for Sunday's race," a 200-lap sprint for the Indy cars. With only three races remaining in the championship chase, Rice is hoping to improve his title hopes with a good finish in tomorrow's race. "We can't worry about points right now; we need to do what we have been doing all year and the race will work out for us."
Vitor Meira took eighth on the 22-car grid in his #17 Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda with his second lap of 212.989mph but admitted he was "hoping for better but the Centrix car was pretty freed up." A gearbox problem in practice limited the Brazilian's track time in this morning's pre- qualifying practice session. "We have worked on our race setup already this weekend and the car is very good, so I expect the usual crazy three- wide type of racing as everyone gets in position for those final 20 laps."
Adrian Fernandez' lap of 212.871mph in his #5 Quaker State/Telmex Panoz G Force/Honda gives the Panoz G Force chassis, the sole IndyCar Series tub designed and built in the United States three cars in the top ten. Fernandez thought, "Qualifying went fine. We have a good race car but I think we're a little bit 'off' this weekend." The Mexican ace secured his first IndyCar Series victory last month on a similar circuit, the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway.
Final practice for the Indy cars takes place later this afternoon and the 14th race of a 16-event campaign is set for a 1:30PM start Sunday afternoon, with live coverage on ABC.