IRL: Homestead: Panoz G Force race report

Rice, Manning Carry Day for Panoz G Force at Homestead HOMESTEAD, FL, February 29, 2004 - Two drivers new to the Panoz G Force family made auspicious debuts in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway today in the...

Rice, Manning Carry Day for Panoz G Force at Homestead

HOMESTEAD, FL, February 29, 2004 - Two drivers new to the Panoz G Force family made auspicious debuts in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway today in the Toyota Indy 300, the first race in a 16-event campaign.

Polesitter Buddy Rice led the first 15 laps in the #15 Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda and would, eventually set the pace for 49 circuits of the 1.5-mile 20-degree banked oval. Unfortunately, Rice suffered a puncture shortly after his first pit stop that relegated the American ace to a seventh place finish.

"The car was excellent," Rice declared after the race. "I cut a tire on the first green lap [after his stop]; I know I ran over some debris and that really hurt us. I know everyone knew we were here, but it just didn't finish up how we hoped," he said. Rice led twice over the 200 laps in his first drive for Panoz G Force, the Indy Racing League's sole chassis designed and produced on American soil.

Darren Manning drove a steady race to finish sixth in the #10 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota in his Indy Racing League debut, coming from 13th grid spot to take sixth place at the close and leading two laps with less than 20 tours remaining to the close. While his car was "very loose at the beginning, it started to come around halfway through the second stint. That enabled me to put in some very fast laps and race with the leaders. I know," Manning said, "that I have a lot to learn out there but I feel I held my own today."

Simon Marshall, chief designer for Panoz G Force remarked, "Buddy Rice and [reigning IndyCar Series champion] Scott Dixon had very good cars in the race. It was theirs for the taking but things happened beyond their control. We're confident," Marshall continued, "that we are on the right track with development of our cars."

The Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series reconvenes in the Valley of the Sun of March 21st for race #2 at the very fast Phoenix International Raceway.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Scott Dixon , Buddy Rice