Rice Rides to Outside Front Row Start with Panoz G Force/Honda Package Fort Worth, June 10, 2004 After completing the two-week whirlwind tour accorded the winner of the 88th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, it was back to business for Buddy Rice and...
Rice Rides to Outside Front Row Start with Panoz G Force/Honda Package
Fort Worth, June 10, 2004 After completing the two-week whirlwind tour accorded the winner of the 88th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, it was back to business for Buddy Rice and his #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda team. Following two protracted practices this afternoon and shortly after the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series had completed their own final warmup, Rice entered the 22-car qualifying line at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway high-banked oval as the fifth car in time trials for Saturday night's Bombardier 500K, a 200-lap dash under the lights.
After turning a lap of 208.755mph (25.0916 seconds), Rice had to wait until there were only three cars left before his fast lap usurped. "We were surprised our car stayed at the top of the charts after going out that early. The track was a little different from the truck rubber. We know we've got the right package with Panoz G Force and Honda and I'm excited about this Saturday night race. It looks cool and it's great for the fans."
A European shopping trip was a terrific way to unwind from his experience earning Bank One Rookie of the Year honors at the Indy 500 according to Kosuke Matsuura, who starts fourth on Saturday in the #55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda. "My engineers and mechanics did a good job for the qualifying setup and I think [over the last three races] that I have learned a couple of things for the qualifying like how to carry speed and how to drive the lines," Matsuura explained after being the final driver to qualify and lapping the tough banked oval at 208.360mph (25.1392 seconds). "I like the banks; it feels like I'm driving on the walls, not around them!"
Adrian Fernandez, driving his first night race at Texas starts ninth in the #5 Quaker State/Telmex Panoz G Force/Honda with a lap of 207.574mph (25.2344 seconds). This will be Fernandez' third night race but first here and he thought, "Qualifying is difficult to judge here because everything looks different at night. Tomorrow we will spend time getting used to the light; it's [the track] lit really well with no shadows."
Dario Franchitti earned his first MBNA Pole Position tonight with the #27 Arca/Ex Dallara/Honda. There are two final practices tomorrow; a one-hour split session at mid-afternoon and a half-hour warmup before dusk. The Bombardier 500K takes the green flags shortly after 7PM CDT on Saturday evening as being shown live on ESPN in the United States.