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Honda Hustles at Homestead

Honda-powered drivers swept the top six positions in the first pre-season oval track IndyCar Series test of 2005 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The one-day run on the 1.5-mile Homestead oval followed two days of testing on the speedway’s 2.31-mile road course, where Honda drivers also took the top two positions, and posted four of the top six times.

Defending Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Rice led the speed charts virtually throughout the day for Honda and Rahal Letterman Racing.

"We did our best time right after lunch, when the conditions are at their best, and led the time sheets all day," said Rice. "We're pretty happy with where we’re at on our oval set-up! The road course stuff is a big learning process for everyone, including us, but we made a lot of progress there as well, and worked our way all the way through our list of things to test. I think we’re pretty much ready for the season to start right now.”

Rice was followed by Scott Sharp, making his on-track debut for Delphi Fernandez Racing.

"The car was great," said Sharp. "It was very strong as I expected. Obviously, it’s a setup that this team had perfected all last year. I knew I was getting in a good car. I felt comfortable right away. We just had to play with the setup a little bit for the track conditions. There were enough cars here at the Open Test that we were really able to start doing a lot of 'big pack' running. That really helped in getting the car to handle well."

Championship runner-up in 2004, Dan Wheldon posted the third-fastest speed of the day, followed by 2004 rookie champion Kosuke Matsuura and 2005 rookie challenger Danica Patrick. Defending series champion Tony Kanaan rounded out the top-six.

The final pre-season open test for the IRL takes place next month at the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway. The 17-race IndyCar season starts March 6 on the Homestead oval, with the first street-circuit event in series history taking place April 3 at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the west coast of Florida.

Combined Practice Times:

Driver Team Make Chassis Time Speed1. Buddy Rice Rahal Letterman Racing Honda Panoz 24.918 215.5392. Scott Sharp Delphi Fernandez Racing Honda Panoz 24.952 214.2443. Dan Wheldon Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 24.981 213.9984. Kosuke Matsuura Super Aguri Fernandez Honda Panoz 24.990 213.9205. Danica Patrick-R Rahal Letterman Racing Honda Panoz 24.995 213.8806. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 25.032 213.5627. Tomas Scheckter Panther Racing Chevy Dallara 25.034 213.5498. Bryan Herta Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 25.036 213.5339. Vitor Meira Rahal Letterman Racing Honda Panoz 25.048 213.42410. Helio Castroneves Team Penske ToyotaDallara 25.101 212.97411. Dario Franchitti Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 25.114 212.86212. Sam Hornish Jr. Team Penske ToyotaDallara 25.118 212.83413. Ryan Briscoe-R Target Chip Ganassi ToyotaPanoz 25.148 212.57614. Patrick Carpentier Cheever Indy Racing ToyotaDallara 25.192 212.20615. Tomas Enge-R Panther Racing Chevy Dallara 25.213 212.03316. Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Toyota Panoz 25.227 211.91417. Darren Manning Target Chip Ganassi Toyota Panoz 25.288 211.40218. Roger Yasukawa Dreyer & Reinbold Honda Dallara 25.321 211.12219. Alex Barron Cheever Indy Racing Toyota Dallara 25.439 210.14320. A.J. Foyt IV A.J. Foyt Racing Toyota Dallara 27.493 209.701
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