Racing Technology– Lotus Hoping For Long Night In Texas
KV Racing Technology – Lotus is hoping to have a long night in Texas when they contest the Firestone Twin 275s the evening of Saturday, June 11 on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway tri-oval in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Firestone Twin 275s will feature two races on the same evening each scheduled for 114 laps. Half of the normal amount of championship points will be awarded in each race. This will be the first time the IZOD IndyCar Series has run two races on the same day, however it will be the 18th time that IndyCars have utilized the format. The last time was during a CART sanctioned event at Atlanta in 1981. All three KVRT – Lotus drivers will be attempting to run two races at night for the first time in their careers.
Tony Kanaan, #82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, who is fourth in the championship standings with 135 points, will be making his 11th appearance at TMS (IndyCar ran two races at TMS in 2003 and 2004 one in June and one in October). In 10 previous events the 36-year-old Brazilian has qualified in the top-10 six times including three times in the top-three with one pole in the 2004 June race. He has finished in the top-10 in all but one race with six top-five showings including five podiums with one win also in June of 2004. Kanaan has had a very impressive start to the 2011 season. He has finished in the top-10 in four of the first five races with two top-five showings and a podium performance (third at St. Petersburg). He has officially picked up 43 positions (starting spot to finishing spot) in the five races. Kanaan, in his 14th U. S. based open wheel season and 10th IndyCar season, will also be attempting to qualify for his 137th consecutive race the longest streak of any active driver and one short of the league record held by Scott Sharp (all-time record held by KVRT – Lotus co-owner Jimmy Vasser 211).
"Texas Motor Speedway is a great place and I always enjoy racing there,” Kanaan said. “It's exciting for drivers and fans alike because you don't ever know who is going to win there until the last lap. For me, TMS is especially close to my heart since I won my Championship there in 2004. I'm definitely looking forward to getting back there next weekend and maybe even adding the first win of the season for the GEICO – KVRT – l Lotus team."
Takuma Sato, #5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus, who will be competing in Texas for just the second time, is 14th in the standings with 94 points. Last year, in his TMS debut, the 34-year-old from Japan qualified 11th, but a mechanical failure ended his race and he finished 25th. Sato has opened the 2011 season strong although his results to do not reflect how competitive he has been. He finished an IndyCar career high fifth in the season opener at St. Petersburg before having what appeared to be at least top-10 performances at Barber and Long Beach nullified by late race incidents. In Brazil, where he earned the Firestone Tire-rific Award, Sato had a breakout performance leading 23 laps, his first in an Indy car, before he was forced to pit for a splash of fuel and finished eighth. At the Indy 500, Sato qualified a team-high 10th, but an incident on lap 20 ended his race.
“I am looking forward to going back to Texas for the first race of a busy three consecutive weeks of racing,” Sato said. “Last year, unfortunately I had a mechanical failure so my race was very short, but the car was looking good until then so I believe we will have strong cars there this time too. We will also have two races on the same day for the first time so it will be a very interesting weekend.”
E. J. Viso, #59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, has been plagued by bad luck during the first part of the 2011 season. The 26-year-old Venezuelan, 20th in the standings with 65 points, had a tire punctured in St. Petersburg, was hit from behind at Barber and had contact while trying to make a pass at Long Beach. In Brazil, it looked like his luck was changing when he placed 13th in horrible weather conditions, but at Indy his misfortune resurfaced when he was again hit from behind on lap 27 and went into the wall. Viso will be making his fourth appearance in Texas. In three previous races he has a best starting position of 14th and a best finish of 11th, both last year.
“I am very excited to be going back to Texas,” Viso said. “I think it is one of the nicest oval events and it is fun for the fans. There is plenty going on and they will get to see a lot of sparks. This track has the most amount of banking on the corners which on restarts means you have the opportunity to pass a lot of cars. It will be interesting to see how the two races on Saturday night work out. I believe it will be a positive thing and will attract a lot of fans, so I am excited for the weekend.”