IRL: Phoenix: Michael Andretti, Tony Kanaan preview

Team 7-Eleven and drivers Michael Andretti and Tony Kanaan head west this weekend to contend Round 2 of the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series at Phoenix International Raceway. After capturing both front row positions at the season opener in ...

Team 7-Eleven and drivers Michael Andretti and Tony Kanaan head west this weekend to contend Round 2 of the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series at Phoenix International Raceway. After capturing both front row positions at the season opener in Homestead, Florida three weeks ago, both Andretti and Kanaan are hopeful that a repeat performance at the Purex Dial Indy 300 may be in the cards.

"We had a pretty good start to the weekend in Homestead," says the 29-year old Brazilian Kanaan who edged out Andretti for the pole position at the season opener and is currently fourth in the IndyCar Series standings. "We weren't able to turn the front row starts into podium finishes, but I think that we were able to show that Team 7-Eleven is competitive. In testing we've also shown that we're quick; Michael was fastest in the Homestead test and I was able to put up the best time at Test in the West in Phoenix last month and although a good time in a test isn't a race win, I take it as a sign of what we can do at this racetrack and this season."

Andretti, who carries his dual role as Team 7-Eleven driver and Andretti Green Racing co-owner into this weekend's IndyCar Series race, also believes that the team's performance in Phoenix during the pre-season will be a positive force this weekend.

"If we can quickly put together what we learned our last time here with we've found out about these new racecars in the past few weeks, we should be competitive this weekend," says the 40-year old Andretti who will retire following this year's Indianapolis 500. "This is Team 7-Eleven's next test. We've shown we can be competitive in qualifying, now we need to put all of our efforts into finding a good race set up. We scored some points at Homestead but we need to win races if we want to have a good shot at winning the Championship. Everyone was motivated by our qualifying performance in Homestead and I know that they want to win this next race as badly as I do. I'd like to post a win or two before I get to Indianapolis. I won here in 1986 and I'd like to think that this will be my year to do so again."

Currently in sixth place in the IndyCar Series standings, Andretti admits that the one-mile oval presents a unique challenge.

"Phoenix has always been a great race and I'm looking forward to going back, it's one of my favorite cities," he says. "The challenge with Phoenix International Raceway is that corners 1 and 2 are very different from 3 and 4 and that makes it a real compromise when setting up the car. When trying to perfect for two corners it counterbalances the two others, which makes it makes it pretty interesting."

Andretti Green Racing co-owner Kim Green agrees.

"Phoenix is a great little racetrack and a challenging one at that. Things are going to be much different for us than they were in testing and while we've got a good base of knowledge from our test, we're going to have to work very hard from the get-go to make sure both the Team 7-Eleven cars start out quick and stay quick. This is the second race of the season and we've got our sights set on earning our first win here. We're going to have to work very hard to achieve that goal."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Tony Kanaan , Kim Green