Miami Indy 300- Practice Report

3/4/2005 4:23:58 PM

Circuit: Homestead-Miami Speedway (1.5 mile oval), Homestead, Fla.
2004 Winner: Sam Hornish Jr. (Toyota) 151.094 mph average speed
Weather: Overcast, mild, 65 degrees F
Ps. Driver Team Engine Chassis Best Time Average Speed
1. Buddy Rice Rahal Letterman Racing Panoz Dallara 25.038 seconds 213.514 mph
2. Bryan Herta Andretti Green Racing Dallara Dallara 25.081 213.148
3. Tomas Scheckter Panther Racing Dallara Dallara 25.095 213.025
4. Vitor Meira Rahal Letterman Racing Panoz Dallara 25.153 212.532
5. Dan Wheldon Andretti Green Racing Dallara Panoz 25.161 212.465
6. Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Panoz Dallara 25.193 212.194
7. Helio Castroneves Team Penske Dallara Panoz 25.200 212.140
8. Dario Franchitti Andretti Green Racing Dallara Dallara 25.201 212.131
9. Kosuke Matsuura Super Aguri Fernandez Panoz Panoz 25.212 212.040
10. Scott Sharp Delphi Fernandez Racing Panoz Dallara 25.216 212.002
11. Tomas Enge-R Panther Racing Dallara Dallara 25.243 211.775
12. Sam Hornish Jr. Team Penske Dallara Panoz 25.294 211.357
13. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green Racing Dallara Panoz 25.295 211.343
14. Roger Yasukawa Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara Panoz 25.308 211.232
18. Danica Patrick-R Rahal Letterman Racing Honda Panoz 25.412 210.369

Honda Drivers Lead Final IRL Pre-Season Test

The 2005 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series got underway Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the same way the majority of the 2004 season ran - with Honda drivers and teams at the front of the field.

Honda-powered drivers claimed the top two positions - and four of the top six spots - in opening practice for Sunday's Miami Indy 300, the first race of the new season. Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice, also the pole qualifier here last year, led the way with an average speed of 213.514 mph for Rahal Letterman Racing, followed by Andretti Green Racing's Bryan Herta, just five-hundredths of a second slower in second overall.

Vitor Meira and Dan Wheldon rounded out the top five. They were followed by Dario Franchitti in eighth, with 2004 Rookie of the Year Kosuke Matsuura ninth for Super Aguri Fernandez Racing. Scott Sharp, an IndyCar veteran but a newcomer to the Honda IRL effort, rounded out the top 10 in his official debut for Delphi Fernandez Racing.

Defending series champion Tony Kanaan ran ninth in the first practice of the day, but faded slightly in the afternoon heat to finish the day 13th, just ahead of Roger Yasukawa, making his first start this weekend for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Single-car qualifying on Saturday will set the field for Sunday's Miami Indy 300, the opening round in the 17-race 2005 IRL IndyCar Series.

Buddy Rice (#15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Rahal Letterman Racing Honda) Fastest in practice: "My best lap was set in the draft, for sure. The last practice, with everyone out at the same time, ended up as one big drafting session. I think most of the top times this afternoon were set in the draft. I think our qualifying times will be a little bit slower tomorrow. But the car is quite good; we were quick in the first session, running by ourselves, as well as in the draft. Overall, the field is even more competitive this year. I expect qualifying to be very close, and there may be more 'pack' racing here than in years past."