Rice Secures Fifth 2004 MBNA Pole Position at Kentucky Speedway SPARTA, KY, 14 August 2004 - In the eleventh race of a 16-event 2004 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series season, Buddy Rice will pace the field to the green flags in...
Rice Secures Fifth 2004 MBNA Pole Position at Kentucky Speedway
SPARTA, KY, 14 August 2004 - In the eleventh race of a 16-event 2004 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series season, Buddy Rice will pace the field to the green flags in tomorrow's Belterra Casino Indy 300 on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway banked oval. Securing his fifth MBNA Pole Position in Rahal Letterman Racing's #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone challenger, Rice turned 216.016mph on the this traditionally bumpy oval, which has been re-ground since last August's race.
The third driver to take timed laps during the late-afternoon single-car qualifying session, held on an unseasonably cool (mid-70s), partly cloudy day, Rice admitted he'd have to wait and see how the session panned out but conceded, "We came off the trailer aggressive and it's worked for us. It was a big benefit to have the #17 car (of teammate Vitor Meira) come and test here last week. The coolness is another big benefit for us and for everybody. I think we look sharp for tomorrow."
Of the seven Panoz G Force entries in a 22-car IndyCar Series field, all qualified within the top twelve this afternoon. The first driver to qualify, Adrian Fernandez earned fourth on the grid in his #5 Quaker State/Telmex Panoz G Force/Honda with a lap of 215.326mph and said, "We gave it everything we had. The car is well-balanced for qualifying, but the race is another thing." Meira lines up seventh in the #17 Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda with his lap of 214.724mph, recovering from balance problems in the second morning practice. "We slowed a little in qualifying but race-wise, I think we're in good shape," Meira revealed.
Darren Manning will bring the #10 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota to the green flag in eighth after lapping this unfamiliar track at 214.697mph. "We knew the car was pretty good; we made changes this morning in practice and it kept getting faster and faster. I think we're closing the performance gap." Teammate Scott Dixon starts ninth in the #1 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota but conceded, "We're struggling a little. We started quick but fell back. I think the track improvements will be good for racing," the 2003 IRL champ said. Kosuke Matsuura earned tenth on the grid with his #55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda while the #13 Access Motorsports Panoz G Force/Honda of Mark Taylor starts 12th.
"After the performance at Kansas this year," noted Panoz G Force chief designer Simon Marshall, "we are optimistic about our chances at Kentucky. All the Panoz G Force drivers have been racing hard in the last few races; we're sure they will continue to show [it] in the best light. We know we've got the best car out there with the best drivers."