Matsuura, Rice Pace Four Panoz G Force Drivers in Top-10 During Michigan Practice Brooklyn, MI, 30 July 2004 - Japanese rookie Kosuke Matsuura has been looking forward to Sunday's Michigan Indy 400, even though this is his first ...
Matsuura, Rice Pace Four Panoz G Force Drivers in Top-10 During Michigan Practice
Brooklyn, MI, 30 July 2004 - Japanese rookie Kosuke Matsuura has been looking forward to Sunday's Michigan Indy 400, even though this is his first visit to the fast Michigan International Speedway 2-mile oval southwest of Detroit. Rebounding from a tough race in Milwaukee last weekend where he crashed in practice yet returned to salvage a tenth place finish, Matsuura posted the second quickest practice time of the day during the afternoon session, driving his #55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda - the sole IndyCar Series chassis designed and constructed in the United States - to a quick lap of 214.414mph, just .060 seconds behind leader Tony Kanaan.
"We're very confident about the race here because we have a good Panoz G Force car and good Honda engine; it is a good package," Matsuura confirmed. "I was very confident to finish in the top three today, but it doesn't mean anything," he said. "I'm thinking of how to race 200 laps here; I don't think the race will be easy."
Buddy Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner recorded the fourth best speed of the day, also on this cool (mid-70s), cloudy afternoon at 214.267mph in his #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda. On the track where he began his successful Indy Racing League IndyCar Series career in 2002 Rice admitted, "Things are coming together like you want them to. It's very satisfying." Because qualifying will be held at 11AM EDT tomorrow, Rice and his Rahal Letterman Racing team worked on qualifying in the morning and race setup in the afternoon and noted, "We are right where we need to be right now."
Matsuura's teammate Adrian Fernandez took eighth with his afternoon lap of 213.357mph in the #5 Quaker State/Telmex Panoz G Force/Honda. The Mexican has not raced at the Michigan oval for a couple of years but felt comfortable from the start of dual practices, where the entire field ended the day separated by .627 seconds after logging a total of 1293 laps.
Just behind him in ninth place, the #17 Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda of Vitor Meira recorded a quick lap of 213.261mph. Looking forward to Sunday's 200-lap contest, race #10 in the 16-event campaign, Meira believes "it is going to be a chess match throughout the race to get in position for the lead so we'll just have to play the game. I'm feeling good about our program for the race," he smiled.
While rain threatened the Indy cars at Michigan International Speedway today, partly cloudy skies are expected for tomorrow's qualifying that will set the grid for the IRL's third visit here Sunday, the Michigan Indy 400. When the race airs live at 3PM on ABC, the weather should be warmer (high 80s) and mostly clear.