KV RACING TECHNOLOGY-- LOTUS DRIVER TONY KANAAN OVERCOMES ADVERSITY TO FINISH EIGHTH IN TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH
STRONG PERFORMANCES BY SATO AND VISO SPOILED BY INCIDENTS
KANAAN THIRD IN CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
We had a little bit of an issue with a pit stop and that cost us the race.
KV Racing Technology -- Lotus driver Tony Kanaan overcame adversity to finish eighth and hold onto third place in the championship race today at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California.
Teammate Takuma Sato was having a strong performance when he was hit from behind and suffered a punctured tire dropping him to 21st. E. J. Viso, the third KVRT -- Lotus driver was also having a good race before becoming involved in an incident and placed 25th.
Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO -- KV Racing Technology -- Lotus, started 10th and remained there until his first pit stop when a fueling issue dropped him to 25th place. At that point, showing the heart of the champion he is, Kanaan battled, scratched and clawed his way back to 16th position. During a restart on lap 67 of the 85-lap event, the race leaders crashed and Kanaan found himself in 10th where he continued to fight culminating in the improbable eighth place finish. Kanaan earned his fifth top-10 finish in eight tries on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn Long Beach temporary street circuit. His best showing was third in 2009 (placed fifth twice, last year and in his TGPLB debut in 1998).
"It was a long day," Kanaan said. We had a little bit of an issue with a pit stop and that cost us the race. We still finished in the top-10 which is a decent result. Things like that should not be happening, so we have to go home and fix it."
Kanaan has opened the 2011 IZOD IndyCar season with three strong performances. He finished third at St. Petersburg and sixth at Barber Motorsports Park to go with today's eighth place showing. The talented Brazilian and 2004 IndyCar Series Champion earned 24 points today and remains third in the championship standings with 87 points just 35 out of first and 28 out of second.
Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus, started 22nd, the first time he failed to make the second round of road/street course qualifying this season, and basically stayed there through the first part of the race. Following his first pit stop he started to climb through the field and after his second stop was sitting in 10th. He got through the carnage in turn one from the incident following the restart on lap 67, however in turn eight he was hit from behind by another competitor and had a tire punctured essentially ending his race.
"I am extremely disappointed," Sato said. "It was a clean start and a strong race. We saved tires and fuel and really concentrated on our strategy. Other drivers ahead of me pitted early, but I was able to stretch a few laps more, which helped me move up. After the restart I was running as high as seventh and side-by-side with Conway, who won the race, but I got hit from behind. This caused me to get a puncture and I had to return to the pits. Overall, I felt we worked well together as a team and I had a good strategy, but we still need to work hard on pure speed. Hopefully we can improve this for Brazil."
Sato, who is in his second IndyCar season, made his 20th IndyCar start and second in Long Beach today. He has also had an impressive start to the season even though his last two results have not reflected how well he has performed. Sato, from Japan, finished an IndyCar career high fifth at St. Petersburg, but has place 16th and 21st at Barber and Long Beach respectively despite driving very strong races. Sato picked up 12 points today giving him 56 for the season good for 13th in the standings just eight points out of 10th.
I haven't looked at the video, so I don't want to say too much.
Viso, No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus, started 17th, moved into 16th on the first lap and stayed there until just before his first pit stop when he moved into 12th place. He was 11th after the first round of stops and moved into 10th just prior to his second stop. Following this stop he attempted to pass another competitor and the two cars made contact knocking Viso out of the race.
"I was having a good, clean race," Viso said." "We were running in the top-10. Then after my second pit stop I was attempting to pass another car and we made contact. I haven't looked at the video, so I don't want to say too much, but I thought it was a legitimate pass because the other driver had lost momentum after being overtaken by other car. It is a shame because I think we were in a position to have a good result. We will just have to try and get things going in Brazil."
Viso, who is in his fourth IndyCar season, made his 53rd career start and fourth in Long Beach today. The young Venezuelan, who has been the victim of some bad luck in the first three races of the season, is currently 25th in the points race with 34 points.
Next up for KVRT - Lotus is the Itaipava Sco Paulo Indy 300 Nestle, April 30 -- May 1, in Sco Paulo, Brazil. The race will be broadcast live on Versus beginning at 12:00 noon ET.
Kanaan extends streak:
Kanaan made his 134th consecutive IndyCar start today, which extends his streak as the active driver with the most consecutive starts (Series record -- Scott Sharp -- 138, All--time leader -- KVRT -- Lotus co-owner Jimmy Vasser -- 211).