RICE TAKES SECOND AT INFINEON SEARS POINT, Calif. - Buddy Rice posted his best finish of the 2005 season piloting the No. 15 Argent Pioneer Honda/Panoz/Firestone to second in the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway. Rice ...
RICE TAKES SECOND AT INFINEON
SEARS POINT, Calif. - Buddy Rice posted his best finish of the 2005 season piloting the No. 15 Argent Pioneer Honda/Panoz/Firestone to second in the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway. Rice started sixth and moved into the top-five on the start and ran his most consistent race of the season en route to his highest finish since August of 2004.
"This was a very good result for the No. 15 Argent/Pioneer Honda," said Rice. "Needless to say, we have had some pretty bad luck this year, but Tim (Reiter, Rice's engineer) had a good game plan coming into this weekend with the racecar. Overall, I wasn't sure if we could run with Tony (Kanaan) at the end since we were conserving fuel. We only had about a gallon of fuel left at the end so we planned the strategy just right. It is hard to explain how the season has gone. But this is a good rebound for us and we are going to two big ovals (Chicagoland and California Speedway) and another road course (Watkins Glen). Boy, I was glad the Honda horsepower was there all day and anytime we needed it. Plus the fuel economy was excellent too from the Honda guys. That was a key for us to get to the end. The Panoz folks have been working hard to get things sorted out on the road circuits and I think it paid off for us today. It has been a long season for the No. 15 crew so I hope can turn things around for the rest of the year and finish up on a positive note. It would be a great way to move into the 2006 season."
Rice's teammates Vitor Meira fought his way to a ninth place finish while Danica Patrick was involved in a three-car incident on lap 19 which claimed pole sitter Ryan Briscoe and Penske's Helio Castroneves.
Meira's ninth place finish allowed him to move within 17 points of fifth place Scott Sharp in the championship.
"Our final position today doesn't really represent how good a car and how fast we were," Meira said. "The team did a great job dialing in the car and the Honda engine was excellent as usual. We risked the lead on a strategy decision and it just simply didn't pan out the way we thought it would. Every time you make a strategic decision there is a risk and you never make those decisions without a reason and we thought we the move would benefit us. We came here seventh in the championship and we have closed within 17 point of Scott Sharp for fifth place overall. Fifth is the goal. Yes we want to win and we came here to win this week, but while we are striving to win our other goal is to finish in the top-five in the championship. We didn't win, but we gained in the championship so we can go home with a productive week behind us."
Patrick was running sixth after starting 16th having utilized a fuel and pit strategy to gain critical track position. She was caught in a three-car melee on the restart on lap 19. The crash claimed the top-two rookies in the Bombardier Rookie of the Year standings.
"I am extremely disappointed," said Patrick. "We had a pretty good car, not the best car I've had this season, but by far the best car I had this weekend and now we have nothing to show for it. We had taken a strategy gamble with our fuel and pit stops to gain track position and we were just starting to see how that was going to play out. I know I wasn't the fastest car on the track so I wasn't going to fight a futile battle with faster cars on lap 17. I gave Helio some room coming down the hill and I would have given [Ryan] Briscoe the same consideration. Helio and I are victims of an overzealous move, a move that I think was premature for that point of the race."
AGR's Tony Kanaan led 33 laps and captured his second win of the 2005 season.
The IRL IndyCar Series will return to the track in two-weeks at the Chicagoland Speedway for Round 15 of the 2005 championship season.