IRL: Watkins Glen: Panoz Friday report

Ganassi cars on target in Watkins Glen practice WATKINS GLEN - Team Panoz overcame rapidly changing conditions in the preparatory two practices for Sunday's inaugural Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix presented by Argent Mortgage. It was a successful...

Ganassi cars on target in Watkins Glen practice

WATKINS GLEN - Team Panoz overcame rapidly changing conditions in the preparatory two practices for Sunday's inaugural Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix presented by Argent Mortgage. It was a successful day overall for the seven-car squad.

This morning's session was held under cool conditions with heavy fog and intermittent rain storms. "It was good to see the Indy cars running in the wet for the first time ever," affirmed Panoz chief aerodynamicist Nicholas Alcock. "The Ganassi team made good use of our front wing developments, which they signed off on late last week during their Toyota test here."

The IRL's 2003 IndyCar Series champion, Scott Dixon came third overall in the sunny, breezy and cool afternoon session that will determine tomorrow's qualifying order. Posting a quick tour of 130.168mph as one of only three drivers in the 130mph speed category, the Kiwi's top tour came on his 15th of 17 laps around the 3.37-mile, 17-corner road course.

Dixon, tenth in the morning found his #9 Target Panoz/Toyota/Firestone racer "a lot better [in the afternoon]. It was more difficult to put a clear lap together because of all the traffic and the cautions." He completed "a lot of laps in the rain (25 total) and our cars were the first ones out there. It was pretty decent," he recalled. "Qualifying will definitely be interesting because you just can't make a mistake."

Giorgio Pantano was fastest in the wet morning session (108.191mph) with his #10 Target Panoz/Toyota but was unable to get a clear lap to improve this afternoon, settling for sixth overall at 129.185mph.

The Italian thought the morning "went very well for us despite the rain, but this afternoon there was just too much traffic and I couldn't get a good lap in. I think we have a very fast car and I am getting a lot more confidence with every lap. I am hoping to put in that perfect lap tomorrow in qualifying."

Vitor Meira used his extensive road racing experience to garner seventh place this afternoon with the #17 Menards/Johns Manville Panoz/Honda. "Our Panoz became better and better during the afternoon session," he explained. "The last time I ran a race weekend in the rain was at Monza [Italy] in F3000 in 2002. I think we can get a good car for the rain here, too."

Alcock added, "Meira gave a solid performance. Watch out for him in qualifying."

The weather could be a huge factor in this weekend's penultimate 2005 IndyCar Series contest. While good conditions are expected for tomorrow's qualifying session, rain squalls have been predicted for race day.

The Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix presented by Argent Mortgage takes the green flags for 60 laps Sunday afternoon at 3:45PM EDT. The race airs live on ABC.

-emt-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Giorgio Pantano , Scott Dixon , Vitor Meira