Third Panoz G Force Victory for Rice in Michigan Indy 400 Brooklyn, MI, 1 August 2004 - "These long races are mentally challenging," noted Buddy Rice after winning the Michigan Indy 400 today to take his third victory of the Indy Racing...
Third Panoz G Force Victory for Rice in Michigan Indy 400
Brooklyn, MI, 1 August 2004 - "These long races are mentally challenging," noted Buddy Rice after winning the Michigan Indy 400 today to take his third victory of the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series season. Despite leading only 13 laps in the 200-lap contest on the fast, two-mile Michigan International Speedway oval, Rice prevailed because his team has "concentrated on being super strong on running in the pack in these long races. We haven't been overly concerned with qualifying; we've put our emphasis on the races," he declared.
Gaining ground on point leader Tony Kanaan and lying second (400-343) Rice declared, "We want to win everything and bring the entrant's championship to Rahal Letterman Racing, the engine title to Honda and the constructors' championship to Panoz G Force. Without the help of all those people involved, we wouldn't be where we are right now." In a fuel strategy game, Rice knew he "needed to stay where I was at because I knew saving fuel was not going to be an issue. I went to the high side [of Kanaan] and drove around." General manager Scott Roembke echoed, "We gave Buddy the numbers he needed to work with to full rich at the end of the race. It's tough to make fuel and lead the race; we had plenty at the end."
Teammate Vitor Meira overcame incidents in the pits and on-circuit to finish fifth today in his #17 Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda. "We had a flat tire, a bent front wing and we had an accident in the pits. I was pushing as hard as I could but when the wing was bent the car became really loose. We were just hanging on. I was really pushing, but everybody was pretty crazy there in the last ten laps, which is normal" for Michigan races.
Scott Dixon earned seventh in the #1 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota and claimed, "I had a very decent Panoz G Force car on the last stint and we were strong at the front." After getting pinched in the closing laps by a car three laps in arrears, "That hurt momentum and it was too late by then. There are a lot of positives we can take from this weekend and build on that for the coming weeks."
Panoz G Force chief aerodynamicist Nicolas Alcock was extremely pleased with today's results. "Rahal Letterman Racing has really been on the ball all weekend," he noted. They put their emphasis on race setups and bided their time when others were running up front. Not only did Buddy win, but Vitor was very, very strong at the end today."
The IndyCar Series takes a one-week break before a sting of three consecutive events. Race #11 of 16, the Belterra Casino Indy 300 takes the green flags at Kentucky Speedway on August 15th.