KV RACING TECHNOLOGY DRIVER TONY KANAAN HAS SPECTACULAR RACE FINISHES FOURTH IN TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH

BARRICHELLO EARNS SECOND CONSECUTIVE TOP-10 FINISH

Tony Kanaan, KV Racing Technology Chevrolet
Tony Kanaan, KV Racing Technology Chevrolet

Photo by: Bob Heathcote

LONG BEACH, Ca. – April 15, 2012 – KV Racing Technology driver Tony Kanaan had a spectacular race improving 15 positions to finish fourth in today’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the challenging 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit at Long Beach, California. Teammate Rubens Barrichello was almost as impressive picking up 13 positions to place ninth and earn his second consecutive top-10 finish while E. J. Viso was the victim of a penalty and placed 12th.

Kanaan, No. 11 MOUSER ELECTRONICS | GEICO – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone, qualified 10th, but started 19th after a penalty was levied against all the Chevrolet and some of the Lotus powered teams for changing-out an engine that had not reached its minimum mileage threshold prior to the Long Beach race. The 37-year-old Brazilian was on the move from the drop of the green flag and benefitted from a solid strategy, faultless pit stops and a car that allowed him to record the fastest lap of the race. As the team’s strategy played out, Kanaan used his tremendous talent to pick up track position at every opportunity. However, in the end it came down to his race craft as he passed car after car to finish his first race of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season and in the process score his first top-five showing of the year.

“It was a great day for the MOUSER ELECTRONICS | GEICO Team,” Kanaan said. “After two very bad races, it’s great to have momentum going into Brazil. We have moved up in the points quite a lot, which is very important. It was a fun race. I got to drive fast and it was a fantastic result for us.”

Kanaan who made his ninth start in Long Beach has finished in the top-10 six times with a best showing of third in 2009 (fifths in 1998, 2010 and 2012). In the first two races of the season he had qualified well (in the top-10 in all three races this year) and drove skillfully, however bad luck ended both the first two events early. Kanaan, in his 15th U. S. based open-wheel season 11th in the IZOD IndyCar Series and second with KVRT, is a perennial championship contender having placed in the top-six in the championship every year he has run the full IndyCar season, a total of nine consecutive seasons. He earned 32 points today giving him 54 on the season placing him in a tie with his teammate Viso. However, today’s fourth place finish gives him the tiebreaker putting him 11th in the championship race.

Barrichello. No. 8 BMC | EMBRASE – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone, qualified 19th, but started 22nd following the penalty realignment. The 39-year-old Brazilian steadily moved through the field, but also benefitted from strong pit work from his crew and an extremely creative and effective race strategy that saw Barrichello make six pit stops, mostly for fuel only, which allowed him to extend his fuel mileage without sacrificing track position. A final stop for a quick splash of fuel late in the race dropped Barrichello out of the top-five, but it also allowed him to attack and pass several cars ahead of him that were conserving fuel. Unfortunately, while charging through the field during the closing laps of the race, Barrichello was hit from behind by another competitor in turn 11 of the final lap dashing any hopes of a top-six finish.

“Honestly I had a good race today,” Barrichello said. “There were so many yellows today we tried at one point to conserve fuel but quickly realized it was not correct so we pushed hard the remainder of the event. I would just like people to have more respect for each other on the track. I was hit on every side of my car. Apart from that, I enjoyed myself today. To start so far back and finish in the top-10 again shows I am getting better and better, so hopefully I will have my best result two weeks from now in Brazil.”

Barrichello, who spent the last 19-years in Formula One, was coming off an eighth place showing in just his second IndyCar start. He has now put back-to-back top-10 finishes together despite racing on circuits he has never competed on before and also getting limited track time mainly due to inclement weather conditions. He earned 22 points today and now sits ninth in the championship race with 59 points.

Viso, No. 5 CITGO | PDVSA – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone, qualified fifth, but started 15th after being moved back on the grid as a result of the penalty. The 27-year-old Venezuelan, like his teammates, was on the move from the drop of the green flag picking up two spots. Unfortunately, a series of incidents including getting blocked from entering his pit for his first stop, having contact with another competitor and having to pit for a new wing and receiving a questionable penalty for avoidable contact, all conspired to cause him to lose track position and ruin his race.

“I am really disappointed with how the race went,” Viso said. “I think we had a good opportunity this weekend because of the strong pace we showed in every session including qualifying, where we were actually fifth before the penalty moved several cars back on the grid. In the race, we used a strategy that didn’t work out the way we hoped. Then I had some bad situations occur in the race. On my first pit stop the entry to my pit was blocked by Graham Rahal. However, the main problem occurred when Alex Tagliani made a very dangerous move passing two or three cars heading into the hairpin turn which is a very awkward place to overtake. I saw what he was doing and moved out of the way, but he was sideways coming out of the hairpin and when I attempted to pass he blocked me and I hit his tire and he spun. Because of the contact I was given a drive through penalty, which I feel was very unfair. I want to thank my crew for their hard work. They gave me a fast car this weekend and hopefully we have an even better one for Brazil.”

Viso made his fifth start here in Long Beach today, His best finish is ninth in the Champ Car World Series finale in 2008. 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 earned 18 points today and is now 12th (actually tied with Kanaan for 11th) in the championship standings with 54 points.