IRL: Phoenix: Panoz G Force qualifying report

Team Target Duo Lead Panoz G Force Qualifying Effort AVONDALE, AZ, March 20, 2004 Qualifying for Sunday's Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Copper World Indy 200 race at the reconfigured Phoenix International Raceway yielded three top-ten slots...

Team Target Duo Lead Panoz G Force Qualifying Effort

AVONDALE, AZ, March 20, 2004 Qualifying for Sunday's Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Copper World Indy 200 race at the reconfigured Phoenix International Raceway yielded three top-ten slots for the six drivers competing with Panoz G Force chassis.

After a difficult morning practice session beset with gearbox problems, Scott Dixon was unable to place his #1 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota first, as he had in practice yesterday. Instead, the Kiwi settled for fifth on the 20-car grid with a lap of 20.7652 seconds (173.367mph) and noted, "Because of the problems we had, we weren't able to simulate a qualifying run this morning. I do think I've got a good race car for tomorrow, though."

Teammate and IRL newcomer Darren Manning starts sixth in his #10 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota after lapping the hot, greasy track at 20.8098 seconds (172.995mph). The Briton had "a bit of a moment in Turn 4 and lifted at the end of my first lap, which impacted my second lap a bit. I do feel this track is well suited to my driving abilities and I'm looking forward to a strong finish."

Rookie Kosuke Matsuura starts tenth in only his second IndyCar Series race, driving the #55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda from the Super Aguri Fernandez Racing team to a 21.0557-second (170.975mph) lap in the intense 90-degree heat of midday. Crediting new teammate Adrian Fernandez for set-up assistance Matsuura said his presence "really helps because we can set up very quickly compared to Homestead. I had a neutral car and the rear was a bit nervous at corner exit but this was the best we have had so far here."

Elan Motorsports Technologies CEO David Bowes noted, "There are so many facets of each race and none of our teams have come back to the trailer citing major issues this weekend. We've said all along that we feel we have a good race car not necessarily the best qualifier so over the course of an entire race we should fare well," he explained.

Panoz G Force chief designer Simon Marshall concurred: "Scott Dixon encountered morning battles with the gearbox and had no time to dial the car in. Darren Manning and Kosuke Matsuura did an awesome job this afternoon and this is their best showing relative to previous performance. I think we'll be in there battling tomorrow, even with the heat and slippery conditions."

The Copper World Indy 200 takes the green flags at 4PM EST and is being telecast live on the ABC network.

-g force-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Adrian Fernandez , Scott Dixon , Kosuke Matsuura