IRL: Kentucky: Panoz Saturday report

Fast Panoz practice lap puts Patrick on pole in Kentucky SPARTA, KY - Sometimes pole position goes to the team that plans best. The Rahal Letterman Racing crew for rookie Danica Patrick's ...

Fast Panoz practice lap puts Patrick on pole in Kentucky

SPARTA, KY - Sometimes pole position goes to the team that plans best. The Rahal Letterman Racing crew for rookie Danica Patrick's #16 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone Indy car "had a good plan for this weekend." While Patrick's preference is always to take timed laps for her grid position, "The pole is still the pole in any situation but I think we would have had a car for pole in qualifying."

Leading the AMBER Alert Portal Indy 300 23-car field in the combined practice rankings with her lap of 217.516mph, Patrick secured her second Marlboro pole of her short 12-race IndyCar Series career. While most of her competitors are concerned by the bumpiness of the 1.5-mile tri-oval, Patrick said the bumps "emphasize problems with the car. We've got our Panoz set up pretty well so I haven't noticed the bumps and hope I never do."

2003 IRL champion Scott Dixon secured fourth place in his #9 Target Panoz/Toyota with a lap of 217.268mph, also in the second practice session. The Kiwi's Panoz was "quick from the start. We actually didn't work very much on qualifying setup so [circumstances] worked out quite well. Things look good for the race," Dixon confirmed.

Vitor Meira's morning practice lap of 217.036mph was good for sixth in his #17 Menards/Johns Manville Panoz/Honda. "We still have some improvements to make for our Panoz in morning warmup and the car should be good for the race. This track is very tricky with the bumps but I think you can run the high line in some places so that could be good for passing in the race," Meira acknowledged.

Scott Sharp holds seventh grid spot with the #8 Delphi Panoz/Honda and the veteran, making his 108th IRL start after lapping the track at 216.993mph in second practice. "I think we have a pretty good package for tomorrow," Sharp reminded, as team co-owner was the winner here last year. "Work done by the engineering staff keeps moving our Panoz along."

2004 Indianapolis 500 race winner (and 2004 Kentucky Speedway polesitter) Buddy Rice starts tenth based on his 216.329mph lap in the #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda. Rice knows "I have a better car than tenth, but we can come from back there with this Panoz," he declared. "I feel good about the setup we ran in practice; we ran full tanks and learned a lot about the car. I think this Panoz is good for Sunday."

The 200-lap AMBER Alert Portal Indy 300 is scheduled to take the green flags at 3:45PM EDT and airs live on ABC.

-Elan Motorsports

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Scott Dixon , Buddy Rice , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira