CICERO, Ill. (July 28, 2001) - Tony Kanaan earned the first pole position in the history of Mo Nunn Racing Saturday when he topped all qualifiers for Sunday's Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer at Chicago Motor Speedway (4 p.m. ET, live, ...
CICERO, Ill. (July 28, 2001) - Tony Kanaan earned the first pole position in the history of Mo Nunn Racing Saturday when he topped all qualifiers for Sunday's Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer at Chicago Motor Speedway (4 p.m. ET, live, ABC-TV).
Kanaan (Hollywood Honda Reynard) emerged from a tightly-packed field of 25 drivers to claim his second career pole position and his first on an oval with a lap of 160.052 miles per hour (23.145 seconds) on the 1.029-mile oval located in suburban Chicago. Kanaan's lap held up when the day's final 10 qualifiers were unable to improve upon it following a 44-minute rain delay, putting Kanaan on the pole for the first time since 1999 at Long Beach.
The field's 25 drivers were covered by a mere .839 seconds in qualifying.
Kanaan earned a championship point for the pole, the first in the two-year history of Mo Nunn Racing. He stands 13th in the FedEx Championship Series championship with 38 points heading into Sunday's 12th of 21 rounds in the championship.
Starting on the outside pole is reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske, who will make his sixth front-row start of the season following a lap of 160.031 mph (23.148 seconds). Castroneves enters Sunday's event ranked third in the FedEx Championship Series championship, with 75 points.
Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda Reynard) of Fernandez Racing made it a Honda sweep of the top three positions by qualifying third at 159.652 mph (23.203 seconds). The start is his season best on an oval and is exceeded only by an outside pole at Cleveland.
Memo Gidley (Target Toyota Lola) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing qualified a career-best fourth at 159.528 mph (23.221 seconds) followed by Kanaan's Mo Nunn Racing teammate, two-time FedEx Championship Series champion Alex Zanardi (Pioneer Honda Reynard), who was a season-best fifth at 158.885 mph (23.315 seconds).
FedEx Championship Series championship leader Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Lola) of Team Rahal qualified eighth at 158.715 mph (23.340 seconds). He holds an 84-81 lead over Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) of Team KOOL Green entering Sunday's event.
Franchitti qualified 10th Saturday at 158.342 mph (23.395 seconds).
The Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer is Round 12 of 21 in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series. The series visits seven countries and four continents during the season and climaxes with the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota on Sunday, Nov. 4 at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Thanks to a partnership between Marlboro, Toyota, CART and California Speedway, the winner of the season finale will collect $1 million, one of the richest paydays in all of motorsports. Christian Fittipaldi (Kmart Toyota Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing is the defending event champion. An additional $1 million, as well as the prestigious Vanderbilt Cup, will be awarded to the driver who wins the FedEx Championship Series championship.
TONY KANAAN, Hollywood Honda Reynard: "We've had a strong car all weekend. The team's been doing a good job, and [teammate] Alex [Zanardi] is helping me a lot. We really work close together. [Team owner] Morris [Nunn] gives us equal capabilities and it's really up to us. I got lucky today. I knew what Helio was capable of, but I told him, 'I root for you all the time, but I wasn't rooting for you today!' I'm happy to give Morris his first pole position. I gave him his first podium finish [third at Long Beach this year], his first pole, and now there's just one thing left. I'm going to try to get that too."
HELIO CASTRONEVES, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "I can't believe it. I can't believe my guys did that to me. The fuel must have evaporated or something while we were waiting [for the rain delay]. I've got to thank my engineer, Andy Borme. He changed the car completely from this morning. When I saw 23.13 on my warmup lap, I thought that was pretty damn good. I made a little mistake on my first lap, and I thought, 'Just get through the second lap.' On the back straight, we were a tenth quicker, and all of a sudden the fuel light came on and the car started slowing down. I was thinking, 'No, no, no, no, no.' But I'm happy to be on the front row. I wasn't expecting that after this morning. Now, we just need to get through the first corner."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ, Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda Reynard: "The car has been very, very consistent all weekend long. It was just a matter of who got it right for qualifying. You can go too loose or too much push. In qualifying the car was pretty good, a little on the loose side, but I'm pretty happy to be in third place. I feel very good about the team. The team is good, we just haven't had the results. We should be good in the championship, we just haven't had much luck. We're getting together better. On December 15, we had nothing. This team is going to be a good one in the future. It's exciting, it's great competition, and I'm very happy."
* Tony Kanaan (Hollywood Honda Reynard) earned the first oval pole position of his FedEx Championship Series career Saturday. His previous best oval start is third, at Rio de Janeiro and Gateway International Raceway in 1998 and Chicago in 1999.
* Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) qualified for his fifth front-row start of the season and his third in five starts on an oval. The run includes poles at Long Beach, Japan and Detroit and outside poles at Milwaukee and Toronto.
* Adrian Fernandez' (Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda Reynard) third-place qualifying effort represents his best oval qualifying performance since third in last year's season opener at Homestead.
* Memo Gidley (Target Toyota Lola) established a career best with his fourth-place qualifying effort in his 26th FedEx Championship Series start.
CART 2Day airs 11 a.m. Sunday on ESPN2, while ABC-TV's live race broadcast begins 4 p.m. ET. Twenty of 21 FedEx Championship Series events are being televised live on ABC-TV or ESPN and 18 are being televised on Eurosport, a European network that reaches 250 million viewers in 54 countries. Sunday's race will also air on the CART Radio Network and CART's official website, at www.cart.com .