IRL: Homestead: Panoz G Force qualifying report

Rice Takes 2004 First Pole for Panoz G Force Buddy Rice accepted a difficult challenge in this year's Indy Racing League IndyCar Series season. The 28-year-old Arizona native is driving Team Rahal's ...

Rice Takes 2004 First Pole for Panoz G Force

Buddy Rice accepted a difficult challenge in this year's Indy Racing League IndyCar Series season. The 28-year-old Arizona native is driving Team Rahal's #15 Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda in relief of Swedish veteran Kenny Brack, injured in the season finale at Texas Motor Speedway last October. Rice is using the opportunity to full advantage, scoring MBNA Pole Position today in qualifying for Sunday's Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Rice's lap of 24.5920 seconds (217.38mph) bested 18 other competitors on a steadily warming, breezy and sunny South Florida afternoon. The penultimate driver to qualify, Rice knew he had a good run going when, on his final warmup lap, "I turned 25.3 [seconds]. I caught [team manager Scott] Roembke off-guard with that and he thought I might have gone too fast. But," Rice declared, "I wanted to make sure we got where we wanted to be today.

"The guys from Panoz G Force have been excellent to work with. They've been working hard to make things [like this] happen," Rice continued. "This tells us we're going in the right direction." Roembke added, "We've been working on race setups all weekend. We knew we'd be fast today but I'm surprised just how quick we were."

While Panoz G Force has only one car in the top ten, the chassis-maker has the spot everyone wants to hold at the start of an IndyCar Series race. "This bodes well for how we might perform at other fast tracks," noted Simon Marshall, chief designer. "This also gives us confidence for the race because we know our car will race well. We're not losing much in the turns, although we might pay a penalty in straight-line speed," he advised.

The first of 16 IndyCar Series events, the Toyota Indy 300 takes the green flags at 2PM EST tomorrow afternoon and will be shown live in the US on cable channel ESPN.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Kenny Brack , Buddy Rice