IRL: Kansas: Rahal Letterman Racing preview

Meira, Rice Anxious for Kansas Speedway Oval After Impressive Runs at Indy, Texas, Richmond Rahal Letterman Racing Drivers Primed To Reach Argent Indy 300 Winner's Circle MEIRA COMES TO KANSAS AFTER CAREER BEST SECOND AT RICHMOND: Young...

Meira, Rice Anxious for Kansas Speedway Oval After Impressive Runs at Indy, Texas, Richmond

Rahal Letterman Racing Drivers Primed To Reach Argent Indy 300 Winner's Circle


Young Vitor Meira comes to this Sunday's (July 4) Argent Mortgage Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway with confi-dence and a smile after his impressive second place run last Saturday night at Richmond. In fact, therunner-up finish to Dan Wheldon was the highest placing in Meira's brief IRL IndyCar® Series careerand now puts he and his No.17 Team CENTRIX Honda G-Force car in position as one of the favoritesfor this Sunday's 300-mile race on the 1.5-mile oval in Kansas. Since he joined the Rahal LettermanRacing camp in Japan, Meira has driven to the TopFive in each race in Japan, Indy, Texas and Rich-mond and, despite missing the first two races of the2004 season, Vitor has moved to 14th in the IRLpoints, just 27 out of sixth. Now, the 26-year-oldtriathlete brings his strong record to Kansas with hisIndy 500-winning teammate Buddy Rice for thetight action and fireworks on the Fourth of July.

"After our last several races, I think we'll be right in the fight with Team Centrix Honda," said Meira. "I think the second place at Richmond was a big confidence boost for our crew. We had fast cars at Indy and Texas but we didn't get the result that we were looking for. Sixth isn't bad but I think we had better cars than sixth. Our Centrix team is learning more about each other and the car. I can see progress with every race. It's too bad we started a little late in the season."


Indy 500 champion Buddy Rice has put together a pretty good qualifying record in the 2004 season so far. With two pole positions (Homestead and Indy) and two straight second spots (Texas and Richmond, the driver of the No.15 Pioneer/Argent Mort- gage Honda G-Force has the best qualifying performance of any driver on the IndyCar Series. With four front row starts, Rice has established as the driver to beat in qualifying and this weekend's Argent Mortgage Indy 300 should list Rice as another top contender. Rice, currently fourth in the IRL points, has qualified first, fifth and second on 1.5- mile oval this year. "The Kansas track is a beautiful facility," said Rice. "We always seem to race there in the heat and the experience is- n't as a pleasure as if it were cooler. But the track is your basic mile and half banked oval and the racing is good there. It's similar to Texas but not quite as banked. But you can run side-by-side and the racing will be fun for the fans. I'm very confident for the Rahal Letterman team coming into Kansas. Both Vitor (Meira) and I had good cars at Texas. If the temperatures are cooler this year, you'll see more tight racing than ever before at Kansas."


This week, Rahal Letterman Racing announced that CENTRIX Financial will be the primary sponsor for the team's No.17 Honda-powered G-Force Indy car currently driven by Meira for the remainder of the 2004 IRL IndyCar® Series. Meira, who joined Rahal Letterman Racing at the Japan round of the 16-race IndyCar campaign, will remain at the wheel of the Team CENTRIX Honda G-Force as the season progresses. Rice, who began the 2004 season as the substi- tute driver for Kenny Brack in the No.15 Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Honda G-Force car, will drive the No.15 car for the remainder of the season. "We are very pleased to announce the extension of our partnership with Bob Sutton and CENTRIX Financial for our No.17 car. Bob and his staff are new to IndyCar racing but not to motorsports and they believe our asso- ciation is important to the company's marketing objectives. We're very ex- cited to have them along for the entire season. We hope to put them in the winner's circle." CENTRIX Financial has been involved in a variety of racing activities in recent years.

"We are very excited to extend our relationship with Rahal Letterman Racing," said Sutton, Chairman and CEO of CENTRIX Financial. "We have been impressed with the professionalism of the team and Vitor Meira and Vitor has been extremely strong at the wheel of the Team CENTRIX Honda. We look forward to watching and working with Vitor and the team for the rest of the 2004 IRL season and we believe we'll see the No.17 Team CENTRIX Honda G-Force car in victory lane very soon."


Brack, the 1999 Indy 500 winner and 1998 IRL champion, returned to the driver's seat on June 5 for the first time since his near fatal crash last October at Texas Motor Speedway when he tested for three hours at Rich- mond International Speedway However Brack admitted that he needs more rehabilitation on his body. "Of all the great moments and recent memories, the one that stands out for Dave and myself was when Kenny climbed back into an Indy car," said Rahal. "Kenny's recovery is nothing short of a miracle, considering the severity of the incident." Brack will announce when he is ready to return to the IRL IndyCar series. "I finally made my way back to the drivers seat," said Brack, who suffered fractures of his vertebra, ribs, leg and ankles in the crash. "It's not as an easy a thing as one might think. Now the next step is that I have to feel that my body is "race-ready."


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Kenny Brack , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Vitor Meira