Led by Rice, Five IRL Panoz G Force Drivers in Final Nazareth Top Ten NAZARETH, 29 August 2004 - The 100th Indy Racing League IndyCar Series contest, the Firestone Indy 225 was held today at Nazareth Speedway, the one-mile oval near...
Led by Rice, Five IRL Panoz G Force Drivers in Final Nazareth Top Ten
NAZARETH, 29 August 2004 - The 100th Indy Racing League IndyCar Series contest, the Firestone Indy 225 was held today at Nazareth Speedway, the one-mile oval near Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains that closes after this event. In a race won by Dan Wheldon under hot, partly cloudy conditions, five of seven Panoz G Force drivers took fourth, sixth, seventh, ninth and tenth finishing positions in a 22-car field, led by the #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone of third-place points holder Buddy Rice.
Rice, who began the race in tenth hounded third place finisher Dario Franchitti to the checkered flags and finished fourth in "an excellent Panoz G Force race car. This wasn't our best qualifying position," Rice noted, "but I was able to work the car all over the track. We had a solid day; we scored some points and we're going into three races that we definitely can win." Rice set the second fastest race lap of 157.396mph on lap 200.
Darren Manning earned sixth in his #10 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota for his seventh top-10 result of the season. "Track knowledge certainly plays an important part here and by the halfway point, I was getting a better idea of what I could and could not do. Our Panoz G Force was really good and we improved it as the track improved. Overall, we're fairly pleased with this result," Manning declared.
Taking seventh after miscommunication on the third of four caution restarts was Adrian Fernandez and his #5 Quaker State/Telmex Panoz G Force/Honda team. "We lost three positions" after running fourth much of the afternoon. "My Panoz G Force was as good as any car on the track and this was just a stupid mistake of not understanding what was happening. We learned from it."
Ninth went to 2003 IRL champion Scott Dixon in the #1 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota who started12th. The Kiwi said, "The Panoz G Force was good and very quick, especially in Turn 2. I got a lot of my confidence back in the car this weekend and my engineer (Julian Robertson) really helped improve the handling of the car. It's been a frustrating year, but I feel a lot better about the improvements we have made."
Vitor Meira, who ran as high as seventh took tenth place with his #17 Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda in his first race at this mile oval that is more like a road course. "I needed to learn more about the track because I got caught out in a couple of spots and guys were able to get around or under me." Still, he was "pleased with how the car felt at the end of the race. This Panoz G force was better than tenth place today."
The IndyCar Series takes time off for Labor Day after three races in three weeks and reconvenes for its 101st race, the Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 12th.