KV RACING TECHNOLOGY DRIVER TONY KANAAN FINISHES THIRD IN 96TH RUNNING OF THE INDIANAPOLIS 500
RUBENS BARRICHELLO IS TOP ROOKIE FINISHER
SPEEDWAY, In. – May 27, 2012 – KV Racing Technology driver Tony Kanaan finished third while Rubens Barrichello was the top rookie finisher placing 11th today in the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500 at the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana. Teammate E. J. Viso suffered a vibration in his car for most of the day and finished 18th.
Tony Kanaan, in the No. 11 GEICO | MOUSER ELECTRONICS - KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone entry, started eighth on the 2.5-mile superspeedway oval and ran a spectacular race. He spent the majority of the race inside the top-seven and patiently bid his time. Getting flawless pit work from his GEICO | MOUSER ELECTRONICS crew he was in seventh place on lap 166 when the team decided to make a strategic stop for fuel during a yellow flag gambling that they could go the remaining 34 laps and potentially fight for the win. The move paid off when ensuing yellow flags guaranteed Kanaan could run at full power until the end and also gave the talented Brazilian the opportunity to utilize his unquestioned skill during restarts. Kanaan took the lead, going from fifth to first, for just under a lap following a restart on lap 185. Then, with the crowd roaring, retook it again on lap 187 and led the next seven laps. Unfortunately, he relinquished the top spot to eventual winner Dario Franchitti, who got help from his teammate Scott Dixon, during a restart on lap 194. Kanaan dropped to fourth, but when Takuma Sato crashed on the final lap of the race, Kanaan moved up to third.
"It was an awesome day with a very close finish again,” Kanaan said. “It was a beautiful race and I think the fans enjoyed themselves. A third place finish is not bad, but I would have liked to of won here today."
Kanaan, 37, made his 11th Indy 500 start today. In 11 races he has finished in the top-10 six times including five top-five showings, a career-high second (in 2004), two third’s (2003 and 2012), a fourth (2011) and a fifth (2006). Kanaan has led a total of 221 laps at the speedway and is the only driver in history to lead laps in his first seven Indy 500 starts. Kanaan earned 42 points today and is now ninth in the Championship race with 113 points.
Barrichello, piloting the No. 8 BMC | EMBRASE – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone machine, made his Indy 500 debut a memorable one. Starting 10th he dropped back into the middle of the pack as he and the team continued the process that had been so successful this month. Barrichello essentially went to “school” for the first half of the race, taking his time, learning how to run with 33 cars on track and dealing with the tricky turbulence that can often get a rookie in trouble. He began to move up towards the top-10 after the first 100 laps and by lap 148 was in the top-10. Over the final 50 laps, Barrichello, who used the same race strategy as his teammate, was fighting for a top-10 finish getting as high as ninth but fell just short, placing 11th. Never-the-less the 11th place finish made him the highest finishing rookie of the eight rookies to start the race.
"It was a very busy afternoon,” Barrichello said. “I had to be a quick learner and the last 20 laps were totally different to the first 180. Today I wanted to be competitive, but I also wanted to make sure I was running till the finish. I think right at the end we had a little too much downforce on the car, but I am so proud of what we achieved. The team did a fantastic job of keeping me safe and I really enjoyed my first Indianapolis 500."
Barrichello, 40, a veteran of 19 Formula One seasons, was attempting to become the first driver to win both the Indianapolis 500 and the U. S. Grand Prix Formula One race (won in 2002) that was held on a road course that incorporated part of the IMS oval. The native of Brazil earned 23 points today and is now 11th in the Championship standings with 102 points.
Viso, behind the wheel of the No. 5 CITGO | PDVSA – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone car, started a career best ninth for the Indy 500 and appeared to be in a good position to have a successful race. However, he quickly developed a serious vibration in the car which at first caused him to lose track position and then forced him to pit numerous times as the team first accessed the problem, then tried to fix it. In the end nothing worked and the young Venezuelan was forced, with the support of his crew, to fight through the problem. The result was he gutted his way to the finish and earned valuable and hard fought championship points.
“I had a lot of good thoughts and a strong belief that we would finish in a great position today,” said Viso. “It didn’t happen because of some issue that occurred with the car during the race. The biggest problem was a big vibration that we believed was coming from the dampers. The vibrations then caused a whole series of other problems. I feel lucky I did not put the car in the wall. I want to give a lot of credit to the team. We had a pretty smooth month of May. We learned some things and grew as a team. I didn’t have the best car out there today, however the entire crew put in a lot of effort and we did finish the race. I want to congratulate my teammate Tony Kanaan. He almost won this race and ended up finishing third. I believe we are getting better every race and some good results are coming.
Viso, 27, contested his fifth Indy 500 today. In five races here, the 18th place finish today ties his best showing which he also achieved last year. He earned 18 points and is now 17th in the standings with 94 points.
Kanaan’s third place showing is the best for KVRT in five races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (total of 12 starts). Townsend Bell in 2010 and Kanaan in 2011 both finished fourth. It is the third best combined finish by the team behind Bell’s fourth and a ninth by Paul Tracy in 2009 and the fourth by Kanaan and an eighth by Tomas Scheckter in 2011.