SEBRING, Fla. (Feb. 20, 2001) -- Mo Nunn Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and Alex Zanardi wrapped up their final two-day test at Sebring International Raceway this afternoon, then headed south to Homestead Miami Speedway to conclude their preparation...
SEBRING, Fla. (Feb. 20, 2001) -- Mo Nunn Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and Alex Zanardi wrapped up their final two-day test at Sebring International Raceway this afternoon, then headed south to Homestead Miami Speedway to conclude their preparation for the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series season on Wednesday and Thursday.
Together, Kanaan and two-time series champion Zanardi combined for more than 450 miles over the two days on the Sebring road course with Kanaan logging the lion's share (some 325 miles) in his #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard. Zanardi and his #66 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard achieved comparable lap times -- among the fastest clocked by anyone this winter at Sebring -- but was hampered by what team owner Morris Nunn referred to as a series of new-car teething problems.
The focus now turns to Homestead, where the second-year team looks to spend the next two days fine-tuning its pit stop performance and simulating various race situations. It will be the ninth and 10th days of testing for both drivers this offseason.
The 21-race season begins March 11 at a brand new road course in Monterrey, Mexico.
"We're very happy with the testing we've done. Everybody on the team seems to be running on all cylinders. Tony has been very impressive all winter, and had another very productive two days at Sebring. Alex, on the other hand, had to endure a little frustration with some of what we could call new-car problems ... typical stuff ... these last two days. We finished up today putting Alex in Tony's car just to try a few things, and he ran quite well. That's a good thing because we have two drivers who seem to like the same setup. That makes life easier for everybody, and it'll help us progress that much faster. These next two days, we'll get a little bit of track testing in, but there's only so much you're going to be able to accomplish from this point forward. You always have to run competitive lap times, but we also know that having the fastest car at the first race isn't necessarily as important as having the whole team working like clockwork in all situations. It's not necessarily the fastest car that wins the first race, or first few races, but the one that makes the fewest mistakes on the track and in the pits. You only get one point for the pole, but you get 20 points for the race win, and that's what we're focusing on. You can always do more to look for speed in the car, but time is limited. We just grew to a two-car team and it's important to be flawless in the pits. You might be able to find tenths of second in speed on the track, but you can throw it all out the window with bad pit stops."
"I think it was a great two days. It's a good feeling to leave the test track having recorded some good lap times. But we don't race at Sebring, so I'm going to hold back on my excitement. It all doesn't happen for real until Mexico. In the meantime, we're gathering a lot of information, so our engineers can work hard to figure out where we want to go from here. I like my setup. It's unfortunate Alex's car had some minor problems that cost him time on the track, but overall I think we gained a lot as a team. That's the luxury of having a two-car team, especially when both of us seem to like the same things in terms of setup. Last year, I was all by myself, so if I would have had any problems, it's a real setback. Now, I'm looking forward to working with my guys on pit stops. The work never ends. More of us in the field have similar equipment, so it's going to be very competitive. Pit stops are going to be more important than ever. We'll work hard these next two days, and then by race weekend we can concentrate on building a good car and really go for it. It feels good to leave the track on a high note, but in this business you're really only as good as your next day on the track!"
"As a team, we were able to make some very good progress once again. But, personally for me, it was a little frustrating. I got significant time in the car today, but it was one little thing after another that kept disrupting things. Hey, in the business, everyone has good days and not-so-good days. The key is to limit your not-so-good days to private testing and be at your best on race weekends. Tony did great, and I was able to get in his car and run well. The real frustrating part is that a year ago I was changing diapers, and this winter every day of testing is important for me. Not to worry, though. We have two more days at Homestead. I'm looking forward to making some adjustments on my car, and running some good laps so we can all go to Monterrey in a good mood. It's important to start the season on the right foot."