16 April 2004
Qualifying quotes - Motegi.
Cars with Honda engines swept the top five qualifying spots for this weekend's Indy Japan 300, with Dan Wheldon taking his second successive pole position with a lap of 26.5983 seconds (205.762mph) on the 1.5-mile oval and giving the Japanese engine manufacturer high hopes of a debut victory at its home track. 1999 IndyCar Series champion Greg Ray will join Wheldon on the front row after posting a lap of 26.5990 seconds (205.722mph), his best qualifying effort since joining Access Motorsports, and his best since starting from the pole with Team Menard in 2001 at Nashville.
All four drivers that crashed in earlier practice were cleared to qualify, defending champion Scott Dixon running despite sustaining a hairline fracture in his ankle in a crash at turn 4.
Dan Wheldon #26 Dallara-Honda Andretti-Green Racing 1st
"I give all the credit to Eddie Jones and Honda. I was really struggling yesterday, and Eddie Jones, my engineer, really gave me something that worked well
for me. It gave me confidence in (Turns) 3 and 4, which is where you find all your time here. Certainly it's great for Andretti Green Racing and Honda. They've worked hard for this event. They deserve the pole and deserve the race win as well, but there's 19 or 20 competitors that deserve to be quick and to do well. Tomorrow's the important one. We'll focus on that now. The race is what they want to win. We haven't done that yet."
Greg Ray #13 G-Force-Honda Access Motorsports 2nd
"I could go for qualifying and the race to go the same as it did at the bowling alley. (Ray and a team of Japanese IndyCar Series fans won an Indy Japan 300
bowling event, which kicked off race week festivities.) We had a great week here with all kind of events for Honda. I enjoyed meeting the fans. I love staying in Tokyo and I love this beautiful track in Motegi. I just hope we keep working hard and grow this No. 13 team. We're very honored to compete for Honda. We knew that probably a 26.4 (seconds) would be the mark. The wind played a little havoc out there. We are still the smallest team on the grid. I have one car. You can take only so many risks, and I left a little bit on the table. But it was a good lap and we were pleased with that."
Tony Kanaan #11 Dallara-Honda Andretti-Green Racing 3rd
"This was a good effort for the whole Team 7-Eleven. We've been good in every session so far. The weather changed just a little bit and my car was a little bit loose for qualifying. But, we have a strong car for the race and that is what matters. This race means so much to Honda and all of us involved with the team. I'm concentrating on the race. I want to lead the last lap."
Kosuke Matsuura #55 G-Force-Honda Super Aguri Fernandez Racing 4th
"I'm very happy. I want to say thanks for my engineer (John Dick) and Adrian (Fernandez) who helped me a lot. My team has a lot of motivation and I am looking forward to a good result tomorrow. Each session, my car was improving and I have a good car for the race. For tomorrow, I want to finish first and, if I can't, I want to finish in the top three."
Buddy Rice #15 G-Force-Honda Team Rahal 5th
"I was hoping to go a little better, but the car is good. The grid is very close, so we are not too far off of Dan's (Wheldon) time. We have worked hard on race settings, and I'm confident that the car will be good. I think we have a little bit left in the car too. Having a top-five start is a good way to start the round off. Now we are going to work on full-tank runs and make sure the car is solid for the race. The tires will be good early, and then you have to have solid car as the fuel load goes down and the tyres start to fade. But that really happens at all races and we are prepared for the conditions. It's a little bit hotter here now than in previous years. This is a big race for us with Honda and Pioneer here. I feel good about our chances Saturday."
Scott Dixon #1 G-Force-Toyota Target Chip Ganassi Racing 6th
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