Rice Earns Fifth Pole SPARTA Ky., Saturday, Aug. 14, 2004 -- Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice claimed his fifth pole position of the season, winning the MBNA Pole Award for the Belterra Casino Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway. Rice turned a lap...
Rice Earns Fifth Pole
SPARTA Ky., Saturday, Aug. 14, 2004 -- Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice claimed his fifth pole position of the season, winning the MBNA Pole Award for the Belterra Casino Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway.
Rice turned a lap of 24.6648 seconds, 216.016 mph in the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Rice's lap around the 1.5-mile tri-oval was .0326 of a second faster than points leader Tony Kanaan, whose best lap in the No. 7 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda Firestone was 24.6974 seconds, 215.731 mph.
Two-time IRL IndyCar Series® Champion Sam Hornish Jr., the defending winner of the Belterra Casino Indy 300, will start a season-best third after qualifying at 24.7134 seconds, 215.592. The race will take place on Aug. 15 at 3:45 p.m. (EDT). It will be broadcast live on ABC and the IMS Radio Network.
BELTERRA CASINO INDY 300 POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:
BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "That's all she had today. I think it was going to be a good number. I just wasn't sure if it was the pole. This track is much smoother than last year. They have done a good job preparing the surface. We trimmed out the car as much as possible for qualifying. We made minor adjustments during practice, and it felt good. (Teammate) Vitor (Meira) did a very good job in his test here last week. I think both of us are very happy with our cars." (About points championship): "Right now, it's been between Tony (Kanaan) and I, but if one of us slips up, you have three or four guys who can catch us. That's why we have to be consistently up front and try to win races. I don't think you'll see a race like last year on Sunday. I would be very surprised if someone runs away like Sam (Hornish Jr.) did last year."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): (About strength of car) "As good (a car) as I had in Michigan. We have a strong car, very consistent. We're going to see tomorrow in the warm up, but I feel confident. We did our homework. We're just going to have to put the pedal to the metal tomorrow and try and win this race."(About pit stops) "My boys are awesome. They're doing a great job keeping their focus, and just working so hard on getting this team together. We're succeeding. We have everything to do it, now we have to play with a little bit of luck and see what will happen."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm happy with our qualifying run this afternoon. We thought we'd be a little quicker after the second practice session, but third is a good starting position nonetheless. Tomorrow will be a long day and it'll be important that the car handles well and can move through traffic effectively. Marlboro Team Penske has been working hard all year. We just have to keep it up and earn as many points as we can. I'm looking forward to the race. I really like the track here in Kentucky. It changes every year and you never know what to expect, so I think it should be an exciting show for the fans."
ADRIÁN FERNÁNDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State/Telmex/Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "We had a good day. The car has been fast, and to be starting in the top five will help us for the race tomorrow. I think we have a strong car. It helped to come here and test, so we have our hopes pretty high for this one. (Teammate) Kosuke (Matsuura) is also running pretty strong and hopefully, as a team, we can get to the front."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm really happy with our qualifying run. Given our times this morning, I was thinking a top 10 would be nice, so to end the day qualifying sixth is great. Marlboro Team Penske did a fantastic job getting the car ready. I cannot thank the guys enough. I just pushed the pedal, it was their work that made all the difference today. Now, I'm feeling pretty good about the race tomorrow. We will know where we stand after the morning warm-up, but I'm hopeful we'll have a good day."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "We were fighting several problems this morning, but qualifying was much better than practice. Rahal Letterman always gives me a top-six car for qualifying. We just missed it today with seventh. This race is long, and there's a lot of passing. We want to be with the lead pack to get us to the end, just like the last couple of races. This track is unique. All four corners are different. Some are smoother than others. You have to know where to drive. We are still working on gaining as many points as possible. We want to climb up into the top five in the standings."
DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "We had a pretty decent day. These two-day race weekend events tend to suit us as we seem to get more done with better success. We improved steadily and got faster with each practice session, and I'm fairly pleased with our progress. Qualifying wasn't too bad and given the gains we had in made recently, we're pretty confident about getting a good race setup that should help us get to the front."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "We started off the day on the right foot, but we went a bit backwards after that. We're a bit ways off where we want to be, but everyone is trying as hard as they can. We were stronger at the last race than we've been in a while and that's positive sign. They've done a good job to improve the track surface which is now much smoother than it has ever been. That should make the race a lot better for the drivers and fans as we'll be able to do a lot more side-by-side racing"
KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "I am disappointed with 10th place. The feeling of the car was good, but something was wrong. I didn't have enough speed, and I had quite a long gear that, in the end, was not correct. We still have a final practice session tomorrow, and we need to work on the car under drafting conditions. The car was not so good in traffic this morning."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Obviously, we seem to be struggling a bit. The other guys just seem to have a bit more speed than us. However, we've had good race cars all year. I'm confident the Pennzoil Panther guys will give us another great race car for tomorrow, and we'll just see what we can do. As far as our earlier troubles today, it didn't really affect us. We were limited to how many miles we were allowed to run anyway, so it still worked out for us."