IRL: Pikes Peak: AGR/Kanaan preview

Team 7-Eleven's Kanaan relying on teammates and television to prepare for Pikes Peak INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 10, 2003) -- Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan left Texas Motor Speedway Saturday night with an expanded Indy Racing League ...

Team 7-Eleven's Kanaan relying on teammates and television to prepare for Pikes Peak

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 10, 2003) -- Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan left Texas Motor Speedway Saturday night with an expanded Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar^Ù Series points lead, but knew he had plenty of studying to do before this weekend's Honda Indy 225 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

Kanaan, who used a second-place finish at Texas to extend his points lead to 26 over Al Unser Jr., has never seen the one-mile oval the series will compete on this weekend in Fountain, Colo. Although Kanaan would prefer to have years of experience there, he is going to spend this week pouring over the "study aids" he has at his disposal.

For starters, the 28-year old Brazilian has access to the testing data collected by two of his teammates -- Dan Wheldon and Bryan Herta. Both drivers tested at Pikes Peak in mid- May, which will give Kanaan a chance to learn the baseline setup that may be under his #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone when practice opens on Saturday morning.

"I don't know what to expect," said Kanaan. "It's another place I've never been before. But, the guys tested there, so I'm relying on Bryan and Dan. They did a great job for us (collecting test data) at Texas, so hopefully Pikes Peak will be the same story.

Along with studying his notes, Kanaan is planning to spend some time in front of the television this week while at home in Miami -- not for the purposes of entertainment, but rather for education.

"I've never seen the racetrack," said Kanaan. "I don't know the layout. But, I'm going to watch last year's race this week on TV and go from there."

Kanaan, who has only finished outside the top four once this season, has his eye on the bigger picture of winning his first IRL IndyCar Series title in 2003, but is also pursuing race wins with a vengeance and has no plans of changing that approach this weekend.

"We're going to go to Pikes Peak with the same hat on that we had on at Texas," said Kanaan. "If we have a car to win, we're going to win. If we don't, we're going to try to finish as high as we can because we are looking at the big picture."

Andretti Green Racing president Kim Green enjoys Kanaan's ranking in the point standings, but has an even greater appreciation for his focus on winning races.

"I think you can get yourself in trouble by being too conservative," said Green. "We have to go after race wins in every race. What's important is this -- if we don't quite have the car to win the race, then we need to maximize the number of points we can get. In this series, the points go a lot deeper into the field (as compared to the CART series), so it's very, very important to finish races and finish them well."

- AGR -

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Kim Green