IRL: Watkins Glen: Panoz qualifying report

Ganassi duo on sharp end of Glen grid with Panoz WATKINS GLEN - Four of the seven Team Panoz drivers landed in the top ten for tomorrow's penultimate 2005 IndyCar Series contest, the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix presented by Argent ...

Ganassi duo on sharp end of Glen grid with Panoz

WATKINS GLEN - Four of the seven Team Panoz drivers landed in the top ten for tomorrow's penultimate 2005 IndyCar Series contest, the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix presented by Argent Mortgage.

Fastest among them was Giorgio Pantano, making his second start in the #10 Target Panoz/Toyota/Firestone challenger. The Italian, who was fifth after single car qualifying (131.429mph) improved to take second on the 20-car grid at 133.774mph after the 10-minute Firestone Fast Six shootout was completed. He missed pole position on the 3.37-mile, 11-corner road course by a minimal 0.0215 seconds.

Pantano thought his single qualifying lap was "not the best, to be honest but we wanted to take no chances." Once ensconced in the Fast Six he was "very happy to start on the front row. On the last lap I tried some things; I knew I was going to be very close to Helio [Castroneves, who earned pole position]. I'm very happy to be here," he confirmed.

Teammate Scott Dixon, fastest overall in the single-car session starts fourth with his #9 Target Panoz/Toyota as Toyota-powered cars earned the top four grid slots. The 2003 IRL champion found his Panoz "very consistent throughout the shootout. I know we have a better chance in tomorrow's race by starting at the front because this is a big momentum circuit."

Third in the final morning practice, Vitor Meira starts seventh in his #17 Menards/Johns Manville Panoz/Honda, posting a lap of 131.065mph. The Brazilian thought he "left a little bit on the table on that qualifying run. The Panoz felt good but the weather keeps changing and the track surface was getting hotter. I made a slight mistake and that probably cost me some time," he confided.

Teammate Buddy Rice begins the race alongside in eighth with his #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda. The 2004 Indianapolis 500 champ "matched our time from the morning and the track was nearly 25 degrees warmer, so it was a pretty good run for our Panoz and our crew, too. They made some good adjustments."

Panoz chief aerodynamicist Nicholas Alcock stated it was "good to see Ganassi's team doing so well on the road courses because they've put a lot of effort into their road course performance and that showed today. We're disappointed that Scott wasn't able to hold onto P1 but pleased for Giorgio to take second on the grid. He should be strong in the race."

The Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix presented by Argent Mortgage gets the green flags for 60 laps of competition at 3:45PM EDT. Live US coverage commences at 3:30PM on ABC.

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