KV RACING TECHNOLOGY – LOTUS DRIVER TONY KANAAN CAPTURES POLE FOR SUNDAY’S IZOD INDYCAR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
SATO TO START 16th, VISO PENALIZED WILL START 31st
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 14, 2011 – KV Racing Technology – Lotus driver Tony Kanaan captured the pole for Sunday’s 2011 season ending IZOD IndyCar World Championships on the 1.5-mile D-shaped Las Vegas Speedway oval in Las Vegas, Nevada. Teammate Takuma Sato qualified 16th while E. J. Viso was penalized and will start 31st.
Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus qualified with a two-lap average speed of 222.078 mph. This was the 15th pole of Kanaan’s 14 year career and 11th in the IndyCar Series. It is his first earned pole since June 27, 2008 at Richmond International Raceway. Kanaan sat on the pole earlier this year in Texas No. 2, but that was by virtue of a draw.
“It feels awesome,” Kanaan said. “It has been awhile. I guess I’ve got to do more Ironmans on my weekends off. I’m extremely happy. I can’t thank the GEICO – KV - Lotus guys enough. We had such an awful race at Kentucky that we needed to turn it around. They went back to the shop to massage that car as much as they could and it paid off.”
Today’s pole is the third for KVRT – Lotus this season (fourth including Texas No. 2) and fifth in team history not counting Will Power’s pole at the Surfers Paradise exhibition race in 2008.
Sato, No. 5 MGM Grand – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, qualified with a speed of 220.627 mph. He will grid on the outside of row eight.
“First of all congratulations to Tony, it’s great to see the speed from his pole run,” Sato said. “I think in general we improved from the last race and are back on the pace, but we still need a little more speed for my car. As close as everyone is here we will have very tight racing and hopefully, we can have a strong result.”
Viso, No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology – Lotus, had a mechanical issue during yesterday’s practice that placed his engine outside the Manufacturer’s guidelines resulting in an unapproved engine change. As a penalty he was not allowed to make a qualifying attempt and will start in the 31st position.
Commenting on his situation Viso said, “Well here we go the last race of the season. Unfortunately I will start at the back of the grid because we had to do an engine change which was considered unapproved under the rules. I am not really concerned where we start. We have done this many times in the past, coming from the back to the front of the field. It is actually very exciting. I think we have one of those good race cars like we have had in the past on the mile and a half ovals. Hopefully, we can bring home a great result so we can close the season on a good note. I also, want to congratulate my teammate Tony Kanaan for taking the pole for this race.”
Kanaan has now qualified in the top-six five times with the one pole in seven races on ovals this year (not counting Texas No.2) including season-high thirds in New Hampshire and Iowa. The 36-year-old Brazilian is currently fifth in the championship race with 366 points and trying to become the first KVRT driver to finish in the top-five in the final standings. In seven oval events this year (counting Texas as two races) Kanaan has earned three top-five finishes with one podium (a season-high second at Iowa, four at the Indy 500 and fifth at Texas race No. 2) and led 97 laps (Texas No. 2-39, Milwaukee-33 and Iowa-25).
Sato has qualified in the top-10 in five of seven oval events (not counting Texas No. 2) with three top-five starting spots and one pole (Iowa), his IndyCar career first making him the first Japanese driver to do this. The 34-year-old, currently 13th in the standings with 297 points, only 17 out of 10th, is looking to have a strong race Sunday and finish in the top-10 in the standings in just his second IndyCar season. On ovals, Sato has earned three top-10 finishes (oval career-high fifth at Texas race No. 1, seventh at New Hampshire and an eighth at Milwaukee) and captured his first career IndyCar pole and led his first oval laps, seven, at Iowa (also led 13 laps at New Hampshire).
Viso has not qualified well on ovals this year other than in Milwaukee where he started an oval career-high sixth. However he has had some very strong performances in the races, even though his final results don’t always show it. The 26-year-old Venezuelan,18th in the standings with 241 points, has finished in the top-10 four times this year, twice on ovals, a season-high seventh in race one at Texas and 10th in the second plus road-course season-high ninths at Toronto and Sonoma. The talented Venezuelan has led two laps on an oval this year both in Texas race two.
Although all three KVRT – Lotus drivers are making their first appearance at Las Vegas Speedway the team has been competitive on ovals this year. The team has now qualified in the top-10 a total of 12 times including seven top-five starting positions and two poles in seven oval events (not counting Texas race No. 2 where Kanaan got the pole by virtue of a draw). In the seven oval races contested so far this year, counting Texas as two starts, KVRT – Lotus has finished in the top-10 eight times, including four top-five showings and one podium performance (Kanaan, second in Iowa). The team has earned one pole and led laps at Texas, Milwaukee, Iowa and New Hampshire.
Practice was split in two groups today Sato ran in the first group while Kanaan and Viso were in the second. Kanaan had the fastest lap for KVRT – Lotus and the fastest of either session with a speed of 224.196 mph (24.7926 seconds). Viso was fifth overall with a lap of 223.184 mph (24.9050 seconds) with Sato 28th at 221.304 mph (25.1166 seconds).