IRL: Michigan: Panoz G Force Saturday report

Matsuura, Dixon Lead Panoz G Force Qualifiers for Michigan Indy 400 Brooklyn, MI, 31 July 2004 - Rookie Kosuke Matsuura continued to impress in qualifying for tomorrow's Michigan Indy 400 at the fast 2-mile Michigan International ...

Matsuura, Dixon Lead Panoz G Force Qualifiers for Michigan Indy 400

Brooklyn, MI, 31 July 2004 - Rookie Kosuke Matsuura continued to impress in qualifying for tomorrow's Michigan Indy 400 at the fast 2-mile Michigan International Speedway, driving in the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series' 10th race of the 2004 16-event campaign.

Pushing his #55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone challenger to a quick lap of 214.718mph, good for second (timed second-best qualifier Helio Castroneves opted for an engine change and goes to the rear of the field) just .179 seconds behind MBNA polesitter Tony Kanaan in the 22-car field the Japanese speedster noted, "We did a good job and put everything together well. I expected the speeds would be a bit slower than this, and we went for a slightly shorter gear," explaining why he did not run as fast as Castroneves.

Starting third after late-morning time trials held under partly cloudy and fairly cool skies, it's 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon in the #1 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota with a tour of 214.328mph. The Kiwi is driving this week with a non-displaced fracture of his right thumb after two crashes last weekend in Milwaukee. Practicing 15th yesterday, Dixon ran third this morning prior to qualifying and said, "We had a fairly decent setup for the Panoz G Force and Toyota has made some important gains that have been very positive. Starting third gives our team a nice boost after a rough week and a lot of hard work."

Teammates Vitor Meira in the #17 Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda (214.089mph) and Buddy Rice's #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda (214.018mph) start fifth and sixth respectively in a field separated by nine/tenths of a second. Meira recognized "It's always important to qualify at the front, but here at Michigan you need a good race car and I think our Panoz G Force/Honda package provides that. You are in traffic for so long here that you must have a combination of power, handling and aerodynamics."

Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner began his IRL career in the League's inaugural Michigan race two years ago. "I'm pumped up for this race," the Arizonan said after qualifying. "We've got our Indy setup and some new Panoz G Force components for this weekend. We were good at Indy and Kansas so I expect us to be right up front again" at the end of 400 miles.

The 200-lap romp around Michigan International Speedway starts at 3:25PM EDT tomorrow afternoon and should offer three-abreast racing on the wide, moderately banked oval circuit throughout the contest. In the United States the Michigan Indy 400 airs live on ABC TV.

-pgf-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Kosuke Matsuura