IRL: Chicagoland: Rahal Letterman Racing preview

Rice, Meira Listed As Favorites At Chicagoland Rahal Letterman Racing Duo Seek Another Honda Win On Superspeedways Sunday RICE STILL LOOKS TO CLOSE ON KANAAN FOR POINT LEAD: Buddy Rice hasn't given up his chase for the 2004 IRL IndyCar...

Rice, Meira Listed As Favorites At Chicagoland
Rahal Letterman Racing Duo Seek Another Honda Win On Superspeedways Sunday

RICE STILL LOOKS TO CLOSE ON KANAAN FOR POINT LEAD: Buddy Rice hasn't given up his chase for the 2004 IRL IndyCar 0x04e5ries point championship. Sure, Rice lost some ground in his quest to catch point leader Tony Kanaan with the Colorado and Nazareth rounds on the 16-race IRL circuit.

But Rice knows he is moving back into his strength - the fast high-banked superspeedways - with the last three races in 2004 including this Sunday's Delphi Indy 300 on the 1.5-mile oval at Chicagoland Speedway. Rice's No. 15 Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Honda Panoz G Force has been the car to beat in recent races on the fast tracks with wins at Indy, Kansas and Michigan and a dominating performance at Nashville before a late race problem. He also was second at Kentucky, just a few feet from victory to Adrian Fernandez.

"We are very anxious to get back to a track like Chicago," said Rice, the series leader in pole positions with five in 2004. "I think Vitor (Meira, Rice's teammate) and I have the cars and crews to win there. That place is fun to drive and a wild track for side by side racing. It is not unusual to have three and four wide racing at Chicagoland. Strategy is always the case on the 1.5-mile oval like Chicago. We have been good on those tracks with our runs at Kansas, Michigan and Kentucky. You have to stay in the lead pack for the first 175 laps and then make your move with 20 to 25 laps remaining. I'm sure that will be the case at Chicago."

VITOR MEIRA HAS TO BE CONSIDERED AS A CONTENDER: Personable Vitor Meira has been so close to his first IRL IndyCar Series vitcory that he can taste it. Everyone in the garage area knows it is only a matter of time before the driver of the No. 17 Team CENTRIX Honda Panoz G Force will be standing in victory lane. And Meira would like that celebration sooner than later.

"I'd like to have it at Chicagoland," said a smiling Meira. "We have had fast cars at many tracks this year and the car has been good on ovals just like Chicago. I know we are close to winning. I just would like to have had it already. But things haven't fallen into place for us yet. It could happen at Chicagoland. That track is a great racing track. You can go three wide anywhere and my car seems to like the outside line. That is the same line that Sam (Hornish Jr.) has won with at Chicago the last two years. Maybe we can put to good use this year. I'm excited about our chances this weekend."

MEIRA ENJOYS CALIFORNIA NASCAR RACE: Meira was a guest of his primary sponsor, Centrix, last weekend at California Speedway as he experiences his first Nextel Cup race. "It was great to see those cars racing under the lights," said Meira, who currently ranks eighth in the IRL IndyCar point standings. "Those cars and drivers can lean on one another which is must different than our cars. But they put on a good show for the fans." Prior to accepting his position with Rahal Letterman Racing, Meira was scheduled to race a stock car this year in Brazil for Helio Castroneves.

BRACK BACK ON STAGE WITH HIS ROCK BAND: Brack may not have returned to the driver's seat but the 1998 IndyCar Series champ is back at his second love - playing electric guitar. The 1999 Indy 500 winner is back on stage with his rock band - Pioneer presents Kenny Brack and the Subwoofers. Brack's group has been a crowd pleaser at Indy, Kansas and Colorado already this year and the band will be performing at selected IRL events including Sept. 9 at the ESPN Zone in Chicago. "It feels good to see all of the fans and play new songs we have written over the winter," said Brack, who suffered fractures of his vertebra, ribs, leg and ankles in his October crash. "I couldn't walk so I played guitar and wrote some songs. I think the fans will like them."

RICE SEEKS IRL POLE RECORD: Rice has collected a league leading five pole positions this season with No. 1 spots at Homestead, Indy, Kansas, Nashville and Kentucky. The IRL record is six set by Billy Boat in 1998

RAHAL ON TRACK TOO THIS WEEKEND: Team co-owner Bobby Rahal returns to the cockpit this weekend at Watkins Glen in the U.S. Vintage Grand Prix. Rahal, who'll drive in two classes with a sports car and Atlantic car, will be honored by the track as some 15 of Rahal's past cars will be on hand for the large historic racing event. "It will be a great experience to see a lot of my old cars including five Indy cars. I'm very excited."


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Billy Boat , Helio Castroneves , Adrian Fernandez , Bobby Rahal , Kenny Brack , Buddy Rice , Vitor Meira