Tony Kanaan fastest on his home streets, takes CART Provisional Pole at Grand Prix Americas. MIAMI - (October 4, 2002) - Tony Kanaan ( ...
Tony Kanaan fastest on his home streets, takes CART Provisional Pole at Grand Prix Americas.
MIAMI - (October 4, 2002) - Tony Kanaan (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) has likely raced through the streets of his adopted hometown of Miami on countless occasions, but Friday may have been the first time he ever helped his CART FedEx Championship Series standing by doing it.
Kanaan, who lives just five minutes from the 1.387-mile temporary street circuit in downtown Miami, took a provisional pole for the first time this season on Friday, besting the field in qualifying for the Grand Prix Americas by cranking out a top lap of 61.264 seconds (81.503 mph). The trip around the Miami layout earned the Brazilian native a championship point, giving him 66 on the season.
Kanaan came out during the session and immediately vaulted to the top of the speed charts, besting his close friend Cristiano da Matta (#6 Chevron Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) in the process. Da Matta , the series points leader, was the first driver to post a time on the day, hanging a scored lap on the board after Michael Andretti (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) started the session by nosing his car into the Turn Four tire barrier, bringing out a red flag.
Kanaan's time would last until late in the 35-minute session when Scott Dixon (#44 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) took the point as the young New Zealander picked up where he left off from the last street circuit when he chased his teammate Bruno Junqueira (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) to the checkered flag last month in the Shell Grand Prix of Denver. Dixon jumped to the top briefly, but Kanaan fought right back to reclaim his seat atop the ladder with the lap at 61.264.
Dixon kept the pressure on throughout his final two laps, lowering his time to 61.444 seconds (81.264 mph) on the 13th of his 15 laps, but could not move up on his final flying lap and would settle for the second spot on the provisional grid.
The drama continued for a few minutes after Dixon ended his chase however, and was extended briefly when Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) impacted the Turn Six wall, bringing out a red flag. The cleanup meant that the session had to be extended for an extra two minutes to satisfy the requirements for 30 minutes of green-flag qualifying time.
The session restarted with six cars still having a shot at knocking Kanaan off the pole, but when the dust cleared, Kanaan had taken the pole and the championship point, leading a qualifying session for the first time this season. The effort guaranteed Kanaan a front-row starting spot for Sunday's 105-lap Grand Prix Americas, his second front-row start of the season and first since starting second at Motegi.
Dixon would hold on for second and will look to repeat the feat in Saturday's final qualifying, a grid spot that would give him not only his best starting spot of the 2002 campaign, but the best of his two-year Champ Car career. Behind Dixon, another driver was having one of the best days of his CART career as Tora Takagi (#5 Pioneer Denso Special Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone) would lock down the third position on the provisional ladder.
Takagi put up his best-ever qualifying performance to take the third spot with a lap of 62.039 seconds (80.485 mph), matching a starting spot of third that he earned in Michigan in 2001 - although that starting spot was earned by virtue of practice times when qualifying was rained out.
Kenny Brack (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) was the only driver in the top 15 to use each of his allotted 15 qualifying laps and used them efficiently as he took the fourth spot on the provisional ladder, one spot ahead of Alex Tagliani (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone). The principals in the chase for the Vanderbilt Cup are bunched in the middle of the pack with points leader da Matta showing the way in sixth. Dario Franchitti (#27 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) is third in the championship and was seventh on Friday's grid while second-place Junqueira would settle for the 10th position on Friday.
Final qualifying will take place Saturday afternoon and will be televised live on SPEED Channel, starting at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
CHAMP CAR TOP-THREE QUALIFIER QUOTES
TONY KANAAN (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "It's nice to be home and to be on the pole here. It couldn't be better. Comparing qualifying to the first practice session, we looked at the data and one of my guys said I was a second faster. [Team owner] Mo [Nunn] started laughing and after we looked at the data, I actually had the second. So I had to go back out there and prove it again. Overall, CART did a great job preparing the event and the track here next year will continue to improve."
SCOTT DIXON (#44 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "This year's been kind of strange really. But street courses are the one's we've been able to sort out. We spent most of our time on the qualifying setup because we think qualifying is so important here. I think toward the end of the session the tires started to go off a bit due to the marbles. The car probably had another three or four tenths in it but [Shinji] Nakano slowed us down a little and traffic hurt us."
TORA TAKAGI (#5 Pioneer/Denso Special Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone): "The track is not as narrow as I expected, though the area from turn four to turn six is quite tight. I'm relived to finish third today because our car is usually not good on street courses. Track conditions were worse this afternoon and the asphalt came apart in turn four. It was slippery, like driving on gravel, but I did a quick lap before the track got worse. The timing was good."
* Tony Kanaan took the point for provisional qualifying on Friday to boost his championship total to 66 on the year. Of those 66, 60 of them have come on road and street courses with just six coming on oval tracks.
* If Tora Takagi can hold on to his third spot on the grid through Saturday's final qualifying, it will be the best that a Walker Racing driver has qualified on track since Gil de Ferran started third at Detroit in 1999. Takagi started third in Michigan in 2001 when qualifying was rained out and the grid was set on practice times.
* Three red flags waved over the 35-minute qualifying session as Michael Andretti, Paul Tracy and Adrian Fernandez had troubles. Of the trio Fernandez had the highest qualifying time, taking the ninth position on the provisional grid.
* Championship leader Cristiano da Matta was sixth on the provisional grid after Friday's run. The Brazilian has only qualified sixth or worse in three of the year's 15 races to date.