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Panoz qualifying pace surprises

The strong performance of the three remaining Panoz chassis was one of the major talking points after qualifying at Homestead-Miami Speedway

With Fernandez Racing switching to Dallaras after testing, and Ganassi having done so earlier in the winter, only Rahal-Letterman Racing have stayed with Panoz for 2006.

The car had shown little speed until Danica Patrick, Buddy Rice and rookie Paul Dana put their cars in the top 10 in this afternoon's qualifying session, with Patrick going third quickest.

"More than anything, I'm relieved after this run, especially after the problems we had yesterday," Patrick said. "A run like this help you gain the confidence to keep your foot down.

"All we've focused on is getting the car balanced and to be at the point where I can really push the car hard and be confident in it."

After winning the Indianapolis 500 and fighting for the championship in 2004, Rice endured a lean 2005 season. He starts sixth at Homestead, but was cautious was questioned about his chances of winning on Sunday.

"We'll have to see how the race plays out," Rice said. "The conditions here at Homestead are different than most races. With the wind and the heat, the track changes.

"You have to make adjustments with each pit stops. That's the key."

 

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