LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 6, 2001) - Tony Kanaan of MoNunn Racing returned to the site of his first FedEx Championship Series pole position Friday and recaptured the magic by setting the fastest lap on the opening day of practice for the 27th...
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 6, 2001) - Tony Kanaan of MoNunn Racing returned to the site of his first FedEx Championship Series pole position Friday and recaptured the magic by setting the fastest lap on the opening day of practice for the 27th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Kanaan (Hollywood Honda Reynard), whose first and only career pole came at Long Beach in 1999, had a lap of 104.559 miles per hour (one minute, 7.759 seconds) on the 1.968-mile temporary street circuit. An additional practice session is scheduled for Saturday morning, with qualifying scheduled for 4:45 p.m. ET.
Kanaan's time was nearly half a second faster than that of Oriol Servia (Sigma Autosport Ford Lola), the Sigma Autosport driver who was second fastest on the day at 103.723 mph (1:08.305). Servia will be seeking his first career FedEx Championship Series pole position when qualifying begins Saturday afternoon.
Defending Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach champion Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) was third fastest at 103.617 mph (1:08.375). Tracy earned the pole for the 1994 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and is a two-time race winner here, having captured the 1993 event in addition to his victory last year.
Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske was fourth fastest at 103.597 mph (1:08.388), followed by Patrick Carpentier (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard) of Player's Forsythe Racing, fifth fastest at 103.576 mph (1:08.402).
FedEx Championship Series points leader Cristiano da Matta of Newman/Haas Racing recorded the 23rd-fastest practice speed of 101.729 mph (1:09.644). Da Matta (Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota Lola) holds a 21-16 lead over defending FedEx Championship Series champion Gil de Ferran of Marlboro Team Penske heading into Sunday's second round of the championship.
De Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) was ninth-fastest Friday at 103.160 mph (1:08.678 mph).
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
TONY KANAAN, Hollywood Honda Reynard: "Well, they took the corner out where I crashed here [while leading the race in 1999], so that makes me happy. This morning we changed tires at the end of the session, but we didn't have any time to get back out on the track. This afternoon, we started the session with the same set as I ran this morning, and then we changed tires and I only did one lap on the new set. I'm pleased to be here, but I still have to improve for tomorrow, because I know the lap times are going to get a lot lower tomorrow. [Teammate] Alex [Zanardi] has been a big help, and actually he really helped me with some changes we did this afternoon. We need to improve tomorrow and stay here, but it's good so far." Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Qualifying 2-2-2-2
ORIOL SERVIA, Sigma Autosport Ford Lola: "I'm happy. It's good to be there now, but it's more important to be there tomorrow and Sunday. But at least we know it's good now. The last couple of months my emotions have been okay, but the months before they weren't so good because I didn't know where I was going to end up, and for a while it didn't look like I was going to end up anywhere. The first day I tried the Lola I thought it was a good choice. You just have to drive well in every session and not make any mistake."
PAUL TRACY, KOOL Honda Reynard: "We've had a lot of problems this weekend. This morning we had some boost problems. We wanted so save the tires this morning so I only did about ten laps. This afternoon, we had an oil leak in the primary car and it was pretty big so we switched to the backup car and had some problems with that. We didn't really get much running in until the last 20 minutes in the session, and we finally put in a good lap at the end. It shows how competitive this series is. I was about 30th quickest until the last lap. [Teammate] Dario [Franchitti] put on a different set of tires, and he went from fourth to 17th. You've just got to make changes at the right time and get a good lap."
* Tony Kanaan (Hollywood Honda Reynard) will be looking to give Honda its fifth pole position in the past six FedEx Championship Series events at Long Beach, and his second in the past three years. The run began with a pole from Gil de Ferran in 1996 and continued with poles from de Ferran in '97, Kanaan in '99 and de Ferran last year. Bryan Herta's 1998 pole for Ford represents the only interruption in the streak.
* Oriol Servia (Sigma Autosport Ford Lola) will be seeking a career-best FedEx Championship Series start, exceeding seventh at Portland last year in his rookie season.
* Friday's fastest three drivers were all former Dayton Indy Lights champions. Kanaan won the title in 1997, Servia in 1990 and Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) in 1990. Friday's top four drivers were Indy Lights graduates, including Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard), who was fourth on the time sheet.
WHAT'S ON TAP
Qualifying for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will air 2 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2.