Tough night for Team Panoz in Richmond RICHMOND - It was a difficult night for the Panoz family of IndyCar Series drivers on the tight and tricky 3/4-mile Richmond International Raceway. Crashes took out all three Target Chip Ganassi ...
Tough night for Team Panoz in Richmond
RICHMOND - It was a difficult night for the Panoz family of IndyCar Series drivers on the tight and tricky 3/4-mile Richmond International Raceway.
Crashes took out all three Target Chip Ganassi Panoz/Toyota/Firestone machines, eliminated Vitor Meira's Menards/Johns Manville Panoz/Honda - after leading 40 of the 250 laps in tonight's SunTrust Indy Challenge - and stopped Scott Sharp's Delphi Panoz/Honda when the veteran was fighting for third place.
That left Kosuke Matsuura in the #55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz/Honda, one lap down to the leaders as the highest Panoz finisher. He did set the fastest lap of the race at 171.372mph in earning ninth place. "First of all," Matsuura explained, "I was really happy to finish this race. This track is really tough and I had a couple of close calls, but we finished in the top ten," he exhaled.
Danica Patrick, in her first visit to the Richmond circuit took tenth place in the #16 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda. Her Rahal Letterman Racing team had been trying some new bits for Panoz in Friday's practice and qualifying sessions. "The team made a lot of changes coming into the race tonight. We had struggled in qualifying and were hoping the car would be better for the race."
Although her car wasn't perfect, "Toward the end it was much better" than her initial experience would indicate. "It was difficult not being able to pass because passing is the best part," she said. Teammate Buddy Rice finished 11th in his #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda.
Only 14 of 22 starters made it to the checkers as seven caution periods ensued for a total of 69 laps.
The Indy cars have a short period to recuperate as the Argent Mortgage Kansas Indy 300 is scheduled to take place July 3rd on the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway oval. In last year's race, Rice beat teammate Meira by 0.0051 seconds, the closest finish of the 2004 season.