Patrick secures first IndyCar Series pole with Panoz KANSAS CITY - Rookie Danica Patrick led a Rahal Letterman Racing sweep of the first three grid positions for Sunday's Argent Mortgage Indy 300 on the Kansas Speedway 1.5-mile oval. The rookie...
Patrick secures first IndyCar Series pole with Panoz
KANSAS CITY - Rookie Danica Patrick led a Rahal Letterman Racing sweep of the first three grid positions for Sunday's Argent Mortgage Indy 300 on the Kansas Speedway 1.5-mile oval. The rookie took her #16 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone racer to a top speed of 214.668mph as the penultimate qualifier, earning her first Marlboro Pole Award in only her eighth IndyCar Series start.
"The changes our team made to the Panoz this morning paid off," Patrick explained. "This feels very satisfying but it's all about how balanced you can get the car and how far you can take it before you go overboard," she said. "There's a fine line there to getting the car as fast and balanced as possible."
Teammate Buddy Rice - the polesitter and winner here in 2004 - lines up second with the #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda. The fourth driver in the qualifying line, Rice's lap of 214.650mph set the benchmark for all until Patrick usurped his speed by 0.018mph. "Our Panoz has been strong on all the 1.5-mile tracks and this is nice for our whole group," Rice remarked. "We left nothing on the table."
The third member of the Rahal Letterman Racing team, Vitor Meira starts third with his #17 Menards/Johns Manville Panoz/Honda after being "a little weaker than Buddy and Danica at the beginning of practice. The team did a great job of catching up for qualifying and it's just amazing how much detail goes into it."
Darren Manning secured the fifth grid spot with his #10 Target Panoz/Toyota, the best for that engine maker with his lap of 214.321mph. "You always put more on the line for qualifying," the Briton admitted, "and everything just felt right with our Panoz this afternoon. The car was just perfect and it gave me the confidence to run the low line. I got everything out of it that I could."
2003 IRL champ Scott Dixon will bring the #9 Target Panoz/Toyota to the green flags in seventh place after logging his lap of 213.778mph. "My Panoz was pretty neutral and it's got good balance. We had two good practices to start the weekend off on a positive note and now we're looking to move forward. I'm really looking forward to a good race."
Veteran Scott Sharp owns ninth on the 22-car grid with his #8 Delphi Panoz/Honda after ripping a lap at 213.376mph. "That was all we had," Sharp acknowledged. "We tweaked the car and got everything we could out of it." In practice earlier in the day Sharp spent a good amount of time drafting with Rice. "We could go inside or outside and, while we're not the fastest, we're as well set up as anyone else" in the Panoz family of drivers.
The 200-lap Argent Mortgage Kansas Indy 300 takes the green flags Sunday afternoon at 12:25PM CDT. The eighth race in the Indy Racing League's tenth anniversary IndyCar Series season airs live on ESPN2.