Meira, Manning, Rice and Fernandez lead Panoz G Force practice times in Nazareth NAZARETH, 27 August 2004 - Practice commenced today for the Indy Racing League's 100th contest, the Firestone Indy 225 on the one-mile Nazareth Speedway oval, a...
Meira, Manning, Rice and Fernandez lead Panoz G Force practice times in Nazareth
NAZARETH, 27 August 2004 - Practice commenced today for the Indy Racing League's 100th contest, the Firestone Indy 225 on the one-mile Nazareth Speedway oval, a track making its farewell with this event. On a warm, partly cloudy day, the 22-driver entry had two split sessions to refine their cars for Sunday's race.
In the second group of the final daily session, Vitor Meira's #17 Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda/Bridgestone racer took second place with his lap of 165.301mph, just 0,0340 behind leader Helio Castroneves. Despite never seeing this track that is "a lot like a road course with left turns," Meira found it "a very fun track. I want to concentrate on race setup here because passing won't be easy. Our car felt very good from the start and a lot of that is because of [teammate] Buddy's [Rice] test here a few weeks ago. It was a very good test for the team," Meira advised.
Darren Manning's #10 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota earned the fourth best speed of the day, late in the second session when the Briton lapped this road-course of an oval at 164.747mph. "The team has put together a really good car for me this weekend and I'm feeling good about our ability to break into the top three here," Manning declared. "We had some good runs getting the Panoz G Force set up for the race."
Winner of three races thus far into the 16-event campaign Buddy Rice earned sixth with his lap of 164.529mph in the #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda. "Today was a practice day and we were able to work on many things with our Panoz G Force." Noting this is the first three-day race meeting the IRL tour has had in quite a while, "You get more time to work on things. Obviously, with the tightness of the track we need to start towards the front and stay there; I'm pleased how today went for us."
After taking second place last weekend and earning his first IRL victory a week prior, Adrian Fernandez set the seventh quickest lap of the day this afternoon at 164.415mph. He found his #5 Quaker State/Telmex Panoz G Force/Honda "good, which makes me pretty happy because we didn't test here like a lot of teams. We have a good baseline and I think we are looking good for the whole weekend. It's nice to be here for the last race."
Despite fielding only one-third the cars typically racing in all Indy Racing League events, the American- designed and built Panoz G Force chassis has earned four victories including the 88th Indy 500. Qualifying will be held tomorrow morning at 11:30AM to accommodate a very active final weekend for the historic Nazareth Speedway. The Firestone Indy 225 airs live on ABC at 2PM EDT.