- Kanaan heads home for Sao Paulo race
- The Brazilian fits with his new team
- Strong start for KVRT Lotus in 2011
KV Racing Technology-- Lotus Driver Tony Kanaan Seeks To Continue Stong
Start To Season At Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300
Sato And Viso Also Looking For Strong Performances
I'm very happy to race at home in front of my fans and at a track that's really good for overtaking.
KV Racing Technology -- Lotus driver Tony Kanaan will be looking to continue his strong start to the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season when he ventures to his native Brazil for the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle, April 30 -- May 1, on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Teammates Takuma Sato and E. J. Viso will also be looking for strong performances this weekend as both drivers try to move-up in the championship standings.
Kanaan, who will pilot the No. 82 Itaipava -- KV Racing Technology -- Lotus for his home race, currently sits third in the championship race with 87 points just 28 points out of second place and 35 out of first. The 2004 IndyCar Series Champion is one of just four drivers to finish in the top-10 in each of the first three events of the 2011 season placing third in the season opener at St. Petersburg, sixth at Barber Motorsports Park in round two and eighth two weeks ago in Long Beach. Even more remarkable is the fact that Kanaan has officially made up 25 positions in the first three races (started eighth finished third in St. Pete -- 5; started 24th and finished sixth in Barber -- 18; started 10th, finished eighth in Long Beach -- 2). This does not take into account the fact that following the first pit stop at Long Beach he fell to 26th before fighting his way back to finish eighth (18 positions). Kanaan will be making his second start on the streets of Sao Paulo. Last year he qualified sixth and finished 10th.
Commenting on racing in his home country Kanaan said, "As soon as I got to Brazil, while I was still on my way home from the airport I decided to go to the track to feel the vibe. I'm very happy to race at home in front of my fans and at a track that's really good for overtaking and that puts on an awesome show for the crowd. It's going to be a busy week for sure, but it's also going to be a rewarding one. We got here in a good spot in the championship and I hope we leave here heading to Indy the same way. I'm very focused and excited for this race. Racing back in my home country is very special."
Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus, has also been impressive in the first three races of the season although his results do not reflect how well he has performed. The Japanese star finished an IndyCar career high fifth at St. Petersburg before placing 16th and 21st at Barber and Long Beach respectively despite driving very competitive races. The final results in the last two races were especially disappointing because in each event he was in line for at least a top-10 finish. Long Beach in particular was extremely frustrating because Sato was battling with eventual winner Mike Conway late in the race when he was hit from behind and suffered a punctured tire. Sato, currently 13th in the standings with 56 points, but just eight points out of 10th, made his IndyCar debut in Sao Paulo last year. He qualified 10th, but an opening lap incident knocked him out of the race.
"The Sao Paulo street course is a great venue," Sato said. "It has such a long straight with heavy breaking at the end, which makes overtaking possible. Although the track is incredibly bumpy all around, it is quite challenging. Last year, this event was my debut race in the IZOD IndyCar series and unfortunately my day ended immediately after the start, so I am really looking forward to having a good race there this year. We still need to work really hard to challenge the top group, but I feel very positive with our constant progress and the performance from my KVRT-Lotus team, so I hope we have a great chance to have a strong race.
Viso, No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus, in his fourth IndyCar season, has been the victim of some bad luck in the first three races. The young Venezuelan, who is currently 25th in the standings with 34 points, suffered a puncture in the season opener when he ran over some debris, then was hit by another competitor at Barber. At Long Beach, he was having a strong race when he attempted a pass that resulted in contact ending his day. Last year, Viso had a solid performance in Sao Paulo. Starting 17th he fought his way to a 12th place finish in a brutal race.
"I'm exited on going back to Brazil which last year was such a colorful and exciting race," Viso said. "The track has a special character because of the slow corners and it is such a long race. Also the weather is always a factor this time of year, so the track conditions change and that will bring some excitement to the weekend."
Kanaan extends streak: Kanaan will be attempting to make his 136th consecutive IndyCar start this weekend, 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).
Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 Nestle television times: The Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 Nestle will be broadcast live on Versus beginning at 12:00 noon ET.