IRL: Kentucky: Honda Saturday report

Rice, Kanaan Qualify 1-2 at Kentucky Indy Racing League IndyCar Series championship contenders Buddy Rice and Tony Kanaan will start Sunday's Belterra Casino 300 from the front row of the 22-car field, the ninth time this season that Honda ...

Rice, Kanaan Qualify 1-2 at Kentucky

Indy Racing League IndyCar Series championship contenders Buddy Rice and Tony Kanaan will start Sunday's Belterra Casino 300 from the front row of the 22-car field, the ninth time this season that Honda drivers have filled out the front row of an IRL starting grid. It also is the 10th pole of the season for Honda, five of them by Rahal Letterman Racing's Rice, who now is one away from tying the IRL single-season record of six, set by Billy Boat in 1996.

Kanaan will start from the front row for the third consecutive race, a string begun last month at the Milwaukee Mile and continuing with his first pole of the season a week later at Michigan International Speedway. The Andretti Green Racing driver continues to lead the IRL Drivers' Championship with 400 points to 343 for second-ranked Rice, who also has three wins this year.

Fernandez Racing owner/driver Adrian Fernandez and Andretti Green's Dario Franchitti made it four Hondas out of the top five qualifiers Saturday at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway, while Vitor Meira will line up seventh in his Rahal Letterman Racing entry.

Kosuke Matsuura again led the rookie qualifiers and will start 10th for Super Aguri Fernandez Racing, just ahead of two-race winner Dan Wheldon, who currently lies third in the standings. Mark Taylor will line up 12th for Access Motorsports, while Bryan Herta's Andretti Green crew made a precautionary engine change after practice, and according to IRL rules must now start from the rear of the field.

Honda will be chasing its 10th consecutive IndyCar Series victory, which also would clinch the 2004 IRL Manufacturers' Championship for the company, when Sunday's 200-lap race starts at 3:30 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on ABC.

Buddy Rice (#15 Pioneer/Argent Racing Honda): pole qualifier today, fifth pole this year, 10th pole for Honda: "Because we were able to test here last week, we unloaded off the trailer with a pretty aggressive setup and it paid off today. I'm enjoying the points battle with Tony [Kanaan] right now. Everyone's pushing real hard and to me that's what racing's all about. I think the cooler temperatures here this year will help keep the pack together and put on an exciting race. I'm looking forward to it."

-honda-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Mark Taylor , Billy Boat , Adrian Fernandez , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Kosuke Matsuura , Vitor Meira