KV RACING TECHNOLOGY DRIVER E. J. VISO QUALIFIES FIFTH FOR TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH
FINAL STARTING POSITIONS WILL TO BE DETERMINED TOMORROW MORNING
LONG BEACH, Ca. – April 14, 2012 – KV Racing Technology driver E. J. Viso qualified fifth for tomorrow’s Toyota Grand Prix on the challenging 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit in downtown Long Beach, California. Teammate Tony Kanaan was also in the top-10 at tenth, while the third KVRT driver, Rubens Barrichello qualified 19th.
However, final starting positions will not be determined until tomorrow following the morning warm-up when a penalty will be assessed to all the Chevrolet powered cars as well as some of the cars with Lotus engines. Per the provisions set forth by the IndyCar rule book a penalty of 10 gird positions will be levied against all cars that changed-out an engine that had not reached its minimum mileage threshold prior to the Long Beach race. Once all penalties and factors are taken into account, and subject to tomorrow morning’s warm-up being incident free, it is estimated that Viso will start 12th, Kanaan 16th and Barrichello, 22nd
Viso, No. 5 CITGO | PDVSA – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone recorded a qualifying time of 69.0634 seconds (102.584 mph). Kanaan, No. 11 MOUSER ELECTRONICS | GEICO – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone, qualified with a lap of 69.1987 seconds (102.383 mph). Barrichello, No. 8 BMC | EMBRASE – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone, had a qualifying time of 70.0651 seconds (101.117 mph).
Viso made the Firestone Fast Six, the final round of qualifying for the first time in three attempts this year and advanced out of the first round for the second time (qualified seventh two weeks ago at Barber Motorsports Park). The 27-year-old Venezuelan earned his second top-10 qualifying spot in three tries this season and had his second best qualifying effort in five attempts here at Long Beach (qualified fourth in 2009). In four previous races his best finish is ninth in the Champ Car World Series finale in 2008.
Viso ran in group one in round one and posted the second fastest lap of the 13 drivers in the group thus advancing to the second round. In round two, he recorded the fifth fastest lap of the 12 drivers and advanced to the final round where he was again fifth (out of six drivers). Viso opened the season with the best start in his five-year IndyCar career (third with KVRT) placing a team-high eighth at St. Petersburg then struggled with a car that simply did not have the pace and finished 21st at Barber. He is 12th in the championship standings with 36 points.
“Qualifying went great,” Viso said. “We had a beautiful and balanced car. We had the potential to put it on the pole. However, we would not have gotten the pole because of the penalty that is going to put us back ten positions. Still, I am looking forward to the race and having a good result because we have a lot of trust and belief in ourselves.”
Viso went on to say, “I am definitely excited about how things are going this year. There is no magic in this sport. It is just hard work on the part of the crew, the team and me. I am very grateful for the support of everyone associated with the CITGO | PDVSA car. Knowing that I can count on everyone both on and off the track, my sponsors, crew, everyone is to me the biggest difference this year. It has also been great to have the support of my long time friend Giorgio Pantano on my standing putting an extra set of eyes on my car.”
Kanaan advanced to the second round of qualifying for the third time in three tries this year (made it to the final round once, at Barber). The 37-year old Brazilian has now qualified in the top-10 at all three races to start the 2012 season (qualifying ninth and starting eighth at St. Petersburg, sixth at Barber and 10th today). In nine attempts here in Long Beach, Kanaan has now qualified in the top-10 six times including one pole, the first of his career in 1999. In eight previous races he has finished in the top-10 five times with a best showing of third in 2009 (fifths in 1998 and 2010).
Kanaan also ran in the first group in round one of today’s qualifying and was sixth out of the 13 drivers in his group thus advancing to round two. In round two he ended up 10th falling four spots short of making the final round. Kanaan, in his 15th U. S. based open-wheel season 11th in the IZOD IndyCar Series and second with KVRT, has qualified well and driven skillfully in the first two races of the season, however bad luck has plagued him in both events. A perennial championship contender, he currently sits 26th in the standings with 22 points.
Commenting on his qualifying session, Kanaan said, "The crash this morning didn't help with trying to get track time. It was a very competitive qualifying session and we were just a little bit behind. I missed making the Firestone Fast Six by a tenth of a second and when you think of it like that, it could have gone my way just like it had done at Barber a few weeks ago or not. We just need to work on car tonight so we are ready for the race tomorrow."
Barrichello was also in group one in round one of qualifying. He placed 10th in the group and therefore did not advance to the second round. The 39-year-old Brazilian, who spent the last 19-years in Formula One, is coming off his first IndyCar top-10 finish, an eighth place showing at Barber, in just his second IndyCar event.. He will be contesting just his second IndyCar street race after maing his debut on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida (finished 17th) in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season opener. Barrichello is 10th in the championship race with 37 points.
Regarding today’s qualifying session, Barrichello said, "I have only managed to run around 41 laps this weekend and then trying to qualify on a different tire, I ended up just a little bit off the advancing group in the first round. I really need more track time and as the race progresses I will start to get a better feel. We can't be happy with where I am starting, but I think if I had known the track a little more, I would have done better, so hopefully tomorrow will be a good race."