Team 7-Eleven's Kanaan taking it one race at a time as "crazy" points battle heads to Kentucky INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Aug. 12, 2003) -- With four drivers separated by just 24 points after 11 of 16 events, fans of the Indy Racing League (IRL) ...
Team 7-Eleven's Kanaan taking it one race at a time as "crazy" points battle heads to Kentucky
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Aug. 12, 2003) -- With four drivers separated by just 24 points after 11 of 16 events, fans of the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar^Ù Series consider this year's points race exciting. Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan calls it "crazy."
Kanaan, who currently leads that pack of four drivers at the top of the standings, heads to Kentucky Speedway this weekend with a seven-point advantage over Gil de Ferran. Helio Castroneves sits another three back of de Ferran, while Scott Dixon ranks fourth -- another 14 behind Castroneves. Although Kanaan wants to protect his slim lead, he knows the best way to protect it is to extend it. And, the best way to do that is to win his second race of the 2003 season in the #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone.
Sunday's Belterra Casino Indy 300 will mark Kanaan's first race experience at Kentucky, but not his first batch of extended seat time. The 28-year-old Brazilian tested at the 1.5-mile oval on June 20 as part of an IRL Open Test, charting 146 laps on the way to turning the third fastest speed at 220.238 miles per hour.
Qualifying for Round 12 of the IRL IndyCar Series at Kentucky is set for 4:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday with the 200-lap race slated for 2 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday, airing live on ABC.
TONY KANAAN, #11 TEAM 7-ELEVEN DALLARA/HONDA/FIRESTONE:
HOW DO YOU FEEL HEADING TO KENTUCKY?
"It's going to be good, but this thing (the championship) is getting complicated. Things are getting so tight. Every race is getting that way and is so competitive. It's crazy. But, we're going to do our best and we'll see."
"It was very bumpy when we tested down there. But, they did some work on the track, so I have no idea what to expect. But, I liked it when we were there, so I'm looking forward to it, no matter what."
ON THE PRESSURE INVOLVED WITH TRYING TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP
"I've been battling for championships for years, and I won my Indy Lights championship in '97 in the last two races of the season. I'm used to the pressure. It doesn't change my attitude. It doesn't change the way I go to the track."
KIM GREEN, PRESIDENT, ANDRETTI GREEN RACING:
"It appears that racetrack has a lot of similarities to Kansas and Chicago, and we had a good result in Kansas as a team, so hopefully a lot of the setup work we did for that race will work at Kentucky.
"Everybody is just working so hard. We're asking a lot of everybody and everybody is giving 100 percent, and we've got to continue to do that for the rest of the season. The championship looks like it is going to be competitive all the way to the end. Obviously, all three of our drivers had very, very good cars in Kansas and I think our tests have been good in Kentucky."
ON RUNNING THE SECOND OF THREE CONSECUTIVE RACES
"It's the second race of a three-race stint, which obviously puts a lot of pressure on everybody to do their jobs to the best of their ability. But, one of the strengths of Andretti Green Racing is the quality of the people we have. In our previous years in the CART series, that crew has been able to handle the three- and four-race stints very well when it comes to preparation of the cars and that is obviously going to be a big part of this month."
HOW IMPORTANT WOULD A WIN BE THIS WEEK FOR TONY KANAAN?
"It would be huge. There is no other way to say it. If you can somehow stretch a lead in the championship, it would be huge. It would be a confidence-booster for everybody."
"Going into the final five races, it doesn't appear that you can afford to hiccup too much or you're going to slide very easily because it is so close. I think it's going to be very, very important to be able to run all day in all of the races coming up. You're going to have to be running at the end and obviously try to win every race.
ON "RACING FOR POINTS"
"You can't really run for points in this series with the way the points work. You've got to think 'wins' and then try to put yourself in a position to win every race without taking a chance on not finishing."
- AGR -