TONY KANAAN -- ...
TONY KANAAN -- #55 HOLLYWOOD/MO NUNN RACING HONDA-REYNARD
This weekend marks Kanaan's 66th career Champ Car start and his 27th with Mo Nunn Racing. In his Champ Car career, he has one win (1999 U.S. 500), two poles (1999 at Long Beach, 2001 at Chicago), four podium finishes, eight top-fives, and 32 top-10s.
Kanaan dropped to 14th in the CART FedEx Championship Series driver point standings with 42 after his eighth-place finish at Chicago two weekends ago. Kanaan started on the pole at Chicago for the second time in his career and his first with Mo Nunn Racing. But the race was a matter of multiple fuel strategies, and despite making only two pit stops, Kanaan was beaten by numerous teams that stopped three and four times each. Kanaan also fell victim to lapped traffic in several instances at Chicago.
Add another 49 laps led for Kanaan after Chicago, where he set the pace for the first 47 tours of the mile oval at Chicago Motor Speedway. That brings his total for the season to 166 laps led, placing third among all CART drivers in that category behind points leader Kenny Brack (472 laps led) and Helio Castroneves (321).
The pole position he earned at Chicago was Kanaan's sixth top-five qualifying spot in 12 races this season and his fourth in a row. His next-best efforts to date have been Long Beach (third), Motegi (fourth), Cleveland (fifth), Toronto (fourth) and Michigan (fifth).
Last year here at Mid-Ohio was Kanaan's first road course event (and third race in all) back in the driver's seat after a qualifying accident at Detroit sidelined him for four races with a fractured wrist and broken ribs. He qualified his #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz Reynard 19th on the grid, and finished 13th. He qualified fourth here but did not finish the race in 1999 while driving for Forsythe Championship Racing, and he finished eighth here during his 1998 Rookie of the Year campaign with Tasman Motorsports Group.
In 12 career starts on permanent road courses, Kanaan has one podium (third at Laguna Seca in 1998), three top-fives, and six top-10s.
"We left Chicago a little frustrated. I guess there was no secret about that. We've been knocking on the door so many times this season that when the race doesn't turn out all that great, it gets harder and harder to take every time. But our day will come. You can count on that. I love coming to Mid-Ohio. It's a beautiful racetrack and a great family atmosphere. The people here really love their racing. This used to be my home track when I was with Tasman and Forsythe. And it still is because our Honda manufacturing family is just down the road at their factories in Anna and Marysville. I missed the trip last year, but I'll be visiting with the folks at Anna on Thursday to sign autographs and take pictures. They really make you feel part of the Honda family and I can't wait to go back there again."
ALEX ZANARDI - #66 PIONEER-WORLDCOM/MO NUNN RACING HONDA-REYNARD
This weekend marks Zanardi's 63rd career Champ Car start and his 12th with Mo Nunn Racing, which he joined this past offseason after a two-year hiatus from the series. He has 15 career wins, 28 podium finishes, 35 top-fives, and 40 top-10s.
Two weekends ago at Chicago, Zanardi qualified fifth but was shuffled back to a ninth-place finish in a game of fuel strategy complicated by stubborn lapped traffic.
Zanardi won here at Mid-Ohio in back-to-back fashion with Target/Chip Ganassi Racing - from the pole during his Rookie of the Year season of 1996, and from the second spot on the grid in 1997 enroute to his first of two consecutive CART championships.
In 13 career starts on permanent road courses, Zanardi has six wins, 10 podium finishes, four poles and seven front-row qualifying spots.
"It will be very nice to get back onto a permanent road circuit. Especially the one at Mid-Ohio. I love that track, and my record there sort of accounts for that. It's been a long time since we ran in a true road course configuration. But I still believe we should have a good car because we did well in our offseason testing in that set-up. One thing I really hope for this weekend is to get a little bit of good luck coming our way. I think we have been unlucky a few too many times this season. But, in reality, the good teams always have to make the good luck happen because you can never count on it when you need it. More important than that, we have to continue improving as a team. We've been running up front over the last several races and we have to stay there and finish the job on race day. Hard work always pays off and we have definitely been working hard."
MORRIS NUNN, TEAM OWNER
This season, Nunn is reunited with the driver (Zanardi) with whom he collaborated on back-to-back series titles in 1997 and 1998 for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, as well as the series Rookie of the Year title in 1996. Nunn engineered Zanardi's back-to-back wins here at Mid-Ohio in 1996 and 1997. He also engineered Juan Montoya's win here in 1999.
Nunn scored his first pole position as a team owner with Tony Kanaan and the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard two weekends ago at Chicago. He also scored his first podium finish as team owner in May when Kanaan brought home the #55 car in third place at Japan's Twin Ring Motegi.
"I don't have a whole lot to say at this point. We just have to go out and get the job done. Clearly our drivers were frustrated by traffic and other things last race at Chicago, and their frustrations showed in the aftermath. But we've put all that behind us. Mid-Ohio is a nice change of scenery - literally and figuratively. I think both our drivers will be on top of their game on a course they are very familiar with and love to drive very much. The rest of the team certainly hasn't let up. We've shown we belong up there with the leaders. It's just a matter of time before all the pieces fall in place on race day."