IRL: Nazareth: Rahal Letterman Racing preview

Rice Ready To Regroup For Nazareth, Seeks 4th Win; Meira Brings One Mile Pole Winning Setup This Weekend Rahal Letterman Racing Wants Last Trophy In Final Nazareth IndyCar Race RICE COMES BACK TO SITE OF FIRST OVAL WIN AT NAZARETH: Buddy Rice ...

Rice Ready To Regroup For Nazareth, Seeks 4th Win; Meira Brings One Mile Pole Winning Setup This Weekend
Rahal Letterman Racing Wants Last Trophy In Final Nazareth IndyCar Race

RICE COMES BACK TO SITE OF FIRST OVAL WIN AT NAZARETH: Buddy Rice has already forgot about the disaster that was his race last Sunday's Pikes Peak International Raceway. Rice's spin on the first lap of the 225-lap event in Colorado was a rare miscue for the reigning Indy 500 champion who has been challenging for the coveted IRL IndyCar® Series championship. Rice now trails point leader Tony Kanaan by 68 points entering this Sunday's Firestone Indy 225 at the Nazareth Speedway.

Rice is no stranger to the tight one-mile oval track that is closing down after Sunday's 225-lap race. The Phoenix driver came to Nazareth Speedway in 1998 driving for Lynx Racing in the Formula Atlantic Championship race and left the Nazareth track with a clean sweep, winning the pole and the race. It was Rice's first Formula Atlantic victory. Now, Rice brings his No.15 Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Honda Panoz G Force to Nazareth Speedway in search of his fourth IRL win of the 2004 season for Rahal Letterman Racing.

"That was pretty disappointing at Pikes Peak," said Rice. "I'm still at a loss a little how that (the spin) happened. I guess the air came off the rear wing. Because the car just snapped around so quickly. Vitor said he could see how that could happen in the middle of the pack. It should didn't help our situation in the championship. But the championship isn't over yet. I know we'll be ready for Nazareth. I won my first Atlantic race at Nazareth in 1998 and I enjoy that track. It is tight and you have to be ready to make a move at any time. It's a one groove track and you have to be ready to take advantage of another driver's mistakes. We had a very good test at Nazareth a few weeks ago and I feel confident about the race. We need to put together a strong weekend after the past one in Colorado. I know this Rahal Letterman team can get us right in the fight for the lead."

RICE GOES FOR IRL POLE RECORD AT NAZARETH: Buddy has recorded a season high five pole positions this year with No.1 qualifying runs at Homestead, Indianapolis, Kansas, Nashville and Kentucky. The IRL season pole record is six by Billy Boat in 1998 in the A.J. Foyt car.

VITOR MEIRA SET WITH CENTRIX CAR FOR NAZARETH: Meira, pole winner at Milwaukee, is positive about his team's chances at Nazareth after Rice's impressive test two weeks ago. "I know Buddy had a very good test there a couple of weeks ago," said Meira, currently eight in IRL points. So I feel good about that track. Bobby and Kenny were always good at Nazareth and they can help a little with some of the setups. Overall, we have a good starting point for that track. It is tight and passing is very hard. You have to drive carefully at times because that track can get you. But I am anxious to get there. It would be great to win the last race at Nazareth."

RICE ENJOYS DAY AT FORT CARSON: On Thursday (Aug. 19), The soldiers of the U.S. Army 7th Infantry Division at Fort Carson in Colorado had a special visitor. Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice was on hand to handle one of the military's "baddest" machines -- the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Rice won the soldiers' approval and respect with his maneuvers in the giant vehicle by shooting targets, driving at over 50 m.p.h. and even practicing donuts in the muddy and hilly terrain. The donuts matched rice's post-race celebration at Michigan a few weeks ago. "It was a very unique experience," said Rice. "The vehicle is big and heavy, but the cockpit is not that different from my Indy car. It is tight and has a lot of technical equipment to operate. At least I hit some targets when I was shooting. It was good to meet the guys after driving and give them our Indy 500 hats. They were great to work with and they were excited to show me their equipment and how it works. I have always had a respect for military personnel, but I really appreciate their work after seeing it."

MEIRA'S CREW READY FOR NAZARETH: Vitor Meira's Centrix pit crew has been impressive with its pit work in recent IRL races including improving Meira's track position for as many as three spots per stop. "Early in the season, our Centrix crew was new to the IRL equipment and I was new to them," said Meira. "But in the last few races, the crew has been very fast in the stops and they have helped me gain positions with their pit stops. These guys have won pit stop competitions in the past and they have been getting faster with each race."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Billy Boat , Tony Kanaan , Buddy Rice , A.J. Foyt , Vitor Meira