Fontana, CA – KV Racing Technology driver Tony Kanaan qualified seventh, but is expected to start third after penalties are accessed, in tomorrow’s MAVTV 500 on the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval in Fontana, California. Teammates Rubens Barrichello and E. J. Viso qualified 13th and 22nd respectively. Barrichello is expected to move up several positions after the penalties.
Kanaan, No. 11 GEICO | MOUSER ELECTRONICS – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone car, who will be contesting his ninth race here at Fontana, was the 15th of the 26 drivers to make a qualifying and had a two-lap average of 214.877 mph, with his first lap of 215.450 mph and second of 214.307 just .1781 of a second apart.
“I had a decent qualifying run,” Kanaan said. “I am little concerned about the race. In my opinion the car is a little sketchy on the downforce that we have chosen for the race, but I respect IndyCar's decision on that and we will make the best out of it.”
Kanaan has qualified in the top-10 a team-high nine times this year with season-high sixths on the oval in Milwaukee and the road course at Barber. The 37-year-old Brazilian is eighth in the championship race with 339 points, 33 out of fifth on the strength of eight top-10 finishes including seven top-six showings with three podium performances all on ovals, a season-high second at Milwaukee and thirds at Iowa and Indy (finished 11th at Texas).
Kanaan, a fan favorite, who has never finished lower than sixth in the championship in his nine previous full IndyCar seasons, has qualified in the top-10 in three of the four previous oval races (the sixth at Milwaukee, eighth at Indy and seventh at Texas).
He is tied with Ryan Hunter-Reay with 136 points for the A. J. Foyt oval championship, which goes to the driver with the most points in the five (Fontana being the last) oval races this year (Hunter-Reay currently holds the tie-breaker by virtue of his victory at Milwaukee).
In eight previous races at Fontana, Kanaan has qualified in the top-10 four times including taking the pole in 2002. He has finished in the top-10 six times including five top-five showings with three podiums and a best showing of second in his last two events here (2004 and 2005). He clinched both the 1997 Indy Lights title and the 2004 IndyCar championship here at Fontana.
Barrichello, No. 8 BMC | EMBRASE – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone machine, who is competing on an oval for just the fifth time and at Fontana for the first time, was last of the KVRT trio to qualify going out 21st, posted a average speed of 213.527 with just a .1533 of second difference in the two laps.
“I am happy with my result,” Barrichello said. “We are obviously very lucky because so many drivers have got penalties so I have moved up some places. This morning, I had very little running as we were trying lots of things, so I ended up going blind into qualifying with a totally different car. But, I am happy. I think we have done okay and will now work on our race setup for tomorrow.”
Barrichello, 40, a veteran of 19 Formula One seasons, but competing in Indy cars for the first time, has qualified in the top-10 three times this year including a season-high fifth on the oval at Milwaukee (started third ), and a street/road season-high 10th (started seventh) at Edmonton.
The Brazilian super-star is coming off back-to-back top-five finishes including a season-high fourth place showing at Sonoma (finished fifth at Baltimore), which has vaulted him from 17th to 11th in the standings with 277 points, just 28 out of 10th. Barrichello, who had never competed on an oval prior to this season has adapted to oval racing quickly.
He has seven top-10 performances in 13 races this year (DNS at Texas due to non-team related component problem) including a seventh place finish on the oval at Iowa, a 10th at Milwaukee and 11th in the Indianapolis 500, started 10th, where he earned the Chase Rookie of the Year Award.
Viso, in the No. 5 CITGO | PDVSA – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone entry, who is also making his first appearance at Auto Club Speedway, was the 17th driver to make a qualifying run and recorded an average speed of 210.134 mph. His first lap of 209.972 mph and second of 210.297 mph were separated by .2997 of a second.
“We didn’t really plan on being fast in qualifying,” Viso said. “We went out with a very safe setup. I don’t feel comfortable on this track. It is extremely bumpy and irregular. I feel that the drivers are extremely exposed and I don’t blame Mike Conway for deciding not to race here.
It is going to be a long race and we are just focused on have a very stable platform. That is all that really matters. You just have to hang in there and finish the race. It is going to be very challenging. If the series doesn’t decide to add more downforce I won’t race. It’s tough to understand where the challenge ends and the stupidity begins.”
Viso has qualified in the top-10 five times this year with season-high fifths coming on the street circuits at Long Beach (started 15th due to a penalty) and Detroit. He also qualified eighth on the oval at Milwaukee, but started fifth after penalties were accessed. The talented young Venezuelan is 19th in the standings with 234 points, just 33 points out of 11th.
Viso has finished 12 of 14 events this year with neither DNF being his fault, earning four top-10 finishes including a season-high fifth on the at Milwaukee. He has also been the victim of bad luck in several races, including having a mechanical problem at Indy, where he qualified ninth, a non-team related component failure while running in the top-five at Texas and getting taken out by Will Power at Iowa when he clearly had a car that could contend for the victory.
Source: KV Racing Technology