IRL: Texas: Panoz Friday report

Meira leads Team Panoz in final Texas practice FT WORTH, TX - Vitor Meira carried the load for Team Panoz in Indy Racing League IndyCar Series practice this afternoon and evening. The 22 cars entered in tomorrow night's Bombardier Learjet 500...

Meira leads Team Panoz in final Texas practice

FT WORTH, TX - Vitor Meira carried the load for Team Panoz in Indy Racing League IndyCar Series practice this afternoon and evening.

The 22 cars entered in tomorrow night's Bombardier Learjet 500 on the Texas Motor Speedway's 1.5-mile high-banked oval had two opportunities to prepare their cars for 200 laps of wheel-to-wheel competition at 200mph; one practice in the heat of the day and one around the time of tomorrow's race start.

Meira, driving the #17 Menards/Johns Manville Panoz/Honda/Firestone challenger secured the sixth best speed in evening practice at 214.265mph on his third of 46 laps. "This track is about more than speed," he noted.

"I liked the car in the warmup and think our Panoz will be good in all three lanes by the end of the race," Meira said. "It's all about placing yourself on this track and I think we can race up front with the leaders. That's all I can really ask of our Panoz, but if we have stops like we did in Indy we can win this race," he declared.

Scott Dixon, the 2003 Indy Racing league IndyCar Series champion captured the eighth best speed of the evening at 214.037mph. The Kiwi's #9 Target Panoz/Toyota was "working well in the middle of the track and we feel we've got the balance close to where we need it for these conditions."

Teammate Darren Manning took ninth in the #10 Target Panoz/Toyota with his final and 38th lap at 213.999mph as the Indy cars worked to perfect their cars in traffic, traveling in packs around the 24-degree Texas banks.

Although he was 12th in the speed charts, rookie Ryan Briscoe had a great time maneuvering his #33 Target/Pioneer Panoz/Toyota in traffic around the Texas track. Former Formula 1 Toyota tester Briscoe thinks this track "is something else. It's a bit of a shock with the g forces, which was something I never expected."

Danica Patrick had difficulties in both practice sessions with imbalanced wheels on her #16 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda but felt confident her Rahal Letterman Racing team had the problems solved. She was 17th in final warmup. "I feel a lot more comfortable than I did yesterday."

Teammate Buddy Rice, returning to action after sitting out the Indianapolis 500 parked his #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda after only 23 laps in 14th place. "It's perfect," he said of his Panoz. "I feel good about our car right now."

The Bombardier Learjet 500K takes the green flags at 7:45PM CDT Saturday night. The race airs live on ESPN.

-emt/panoz-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Scott Dixon , Buddy Rice , Ryan Briscoe , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira