Indianapolis Motor Speedway
KV RACING TECHNOLOGY– LOTUS BEGINS PRACTICE FOR 2011 INDY 500
KV Racing Technology – Lotus will begin practicing for the 2011 Indianapolis 500 on opening day, Saturday, May 14 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana.
All three KVRT – Lotus drivers, Tony Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, Takuma Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus and E. J. Viso, No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus, are scheduled to be on track at 12:00 noon tomorrow.
Kanaan, in his 15th season and 10th in the IndyCar Series, is considered one of the greatest drivers never to win the Indianapolis 500. He will be looking to rectify that situation this year. The 36-year-old Brazilian is no stranger to the Speedway having competed here nine previous times. He has qualified in the top-six a total of eight times, in the top-five six times and on the front row twice with one pole in 2005. Kanaan has finished in the top-eight on four occasions and in the top-five three times with a best showing of second in 2004. He has led 214 laps at IMS and is the only driver to have led laps in his first seven Indy 500s. Last year, Kanaan had a very impressive performance. Starting an Indy 500 career low 33rd (last) he charged through the field, got as high as second and finished 11th. The 2004 series champion and perennial championship contender is currently sixth in the standings with 99 points. He will be attempting to qualify for his 136th consecutive IndyCar race (137th overall), just two shy of the Series record (Scott Sharp – 138, all-time record held by KVRT – Lotus co-owner Jimmy Vasser – 211).
“Obviously I am excited to be back at the Speedway,” Kanaan said. “Last year was a struggle for me, but I am with a new team and I think just looking at the color and the number of the car that made so much history here, it kind of adds a little pressure, but I am excited. It is the month of May again and I have not driven the KVRT – Lotus car on the oval, so I don’t know what to expect. This place has been pretty good to me. I am still looking for my first win here, but with the number 82 and the history of the color of that car, maybe we can make it happen.”
We use the very thin super speedway wings ...
Sato, in his second IndyCar season, will be looking to qualify for his 22nd IndyCar event and second at the Brickyard. Last year, he qualified 31st and made a spirited run into the top-10 before having a problem on a pit stop and falling back to finish 20th. The 34-year-old from Japan has been impressive at the start of the 2011 season. He finished an IndyCar career high fifth in the season opener at St. Petersburg, then had on-track incidents negate very competitive performances where he looked to be a assured of at least a top-10 finish at Barber Motorsports Park and Long Beach. In Brazil, Sato qualified a season high 10th then charged to the front of the field in the extremely wet conditions that prevailed over the two days of the rain delayed race. Unfortunately, Sato had to pit for a splash of fuel late in the race dropping him back to sixth. He eventually finished eighth, but moved back into the top-10 in the championship race, at No. 10 with 80 points,
“This is just an amazing event and obviously this year, as it's the 100th anniversary, it will be even more special,” Sato said. “Indianapolis Speedway is a completely unique venue and nothing like any other oval. We use the very thin super speedway wings that makes you go very fast, but also makes it really challenging in all corners and in traffic. Finishing last year’s 500 was valuable experience for this year. I am very motivated and the team has been working on the car over the winter - it looks absolutely beautiful, a really great job. I just can't wait to start this event.”
Viso, who is in his fourth IndyCar season, will be trying to qualify for his 55th IndyCar race and fourth at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In three previous races at the Speedway, the 26-year-old Venezuelan has a best starting position of 19th (2010) and a best finish of 24th (2009). Viso has been plagued by bad luck during the early part of the 2011 season. He suffered a puncture in the season opener then was the victim of an on-track incident at Barber. In Long Beach he was having a strong race when an attempt to pass another competitor resulted in contact. However, his performance in Brazil, a patient and smart race which resulted in a 13th place finish, in what can only be described as horrible conditions may have been just the thing to get him headed in the right direction. Viso is 24th in the standings with 51 points.
“This is the month that we have all been waiting for,” Viso said. “The Indy 500 is something that is huge for anyone in racing and especially for us because we have been building up to this moment. Tomorrow will be the first day we put the cars on the track and we are definitely excited about that. These first days are all about being calm, checking all of our equipment and starting to think about how we are going to play our cards. The hard work and progress we have made as a team so far has been good and I am sure it is all play out later in the month.”
The 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 will be held Sunday, May 29. It will be broadcast live on ABC beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET.