Vitor Meira will start from the outside of the front row for Honda and Rahal Letterman Racing Sunday as the 2005 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series kicks off with the Miami Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Including Meira, Honda drivers claimed four of the top six grid positions in the 22-car field. The Brazilian has two previous IRL poles to his name, including Milwaukee last year, but is still looking for his first IndyCar race win. He finished second twice last year: at Richmond and Kansas.
Meira's teammate, defending Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Rice, will start on the outside of the second row in fourth, just ahead of Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti, who is seeking to add to the pair of wins he posted in 2004. Scott Sharp, an IRL veteran but making his debut with Honda and the Delphi Fernandez team, rounded out the fastest six qualifiers Saturday.
Sunday's Miami Indy 300 starts at 2 p.m. EST, with live television on both ESPN and ESPN-2. Cable network will provide continuous race coverage, while ESPN2 will feature a variety of live in-car camera feeds.
Rookie Danica Patrick will be starting ninth for Rahal Letterman Racing in her IndyCar debut, just ahead of Roger Yasukawa, qualifying 10th in his first start for the single-car Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team. Bryan Herta suffered gearbox problems during his qualifying run, but still set the 13th-fastest speed, ahead of defending series champion Tony Kanaan. Last year's IndyCar rookie of the year, Koskue Matsuura, will start 15th for Super Aguri Fernandez Racing.
Vitor Meira (#17 Menards Rahal Letterman Racing Honda) Fastest in practice:
"Everybody went home and did their homework in the off-season, Honda and the whole team. Then we came back and worked hard again at the [pre-season] tests, and it all paid off with a good qualifying run today. There's still room for improvement – there always is – but it is a very good beginning for us. It would be really beautiful to turn all this effort into a win on Sunday!"