Trio of top-10 qualifiers for KV Racing

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KV Racing Technology

KV RACING TECHNOLOGY QUALIFIES ALL THREE CARS IN TOP-10 FOR INDIANAPOLIS 500

TEAM PLACES TWO CARS IN FAST NINE

Tony Kanaan, KV Racing Technology Chevrolet
Tony Kanaan, KV Racing Technology Chevrolet

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

SPEEDWAY, In. – May 19, 2012 – During a tough and emotional qualifying session KV Racing Technology put two cars in the Fast Nine and provisionally put the third car in the top-10 on the starting grid for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500 to be held May 27th at the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana.

Tony Kanaan, in the No. 11 GEICO | MOUSER ELECTRONICS - KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone entry, the first of two KVRT cars to make the Fast Nine ended up eighth on the grid with a four-lap average of 224.751 mph and will grid on the inside of row three. E. J. Viso, behind the wheel of the No. 5 CITGO | PDVSA - KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone car, who also made the Fast Nine, will line-up ninth (outside of row three) after recording an average speed of 224.422 mph. Rubens Barrichello, who pilots the No. 8 BMC | EMBRASE – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone machine had an average speed of 224.264 and qualified 10th after flirting with a top-nine position and will start on the inside of row four. Both Kanaan and Viso took the green flag during their mandatory Fast Nine attempt and then pitted.

Explaining the strategy KV Racing Technology co-owner Jimmy Vasser said, “The goal today was to get our cars into the top-nine and in fact we qualified three cars in the top-10. At this point our goal is to win the Indy 500.”

Qualifying for the Indy 500 is done in three stages. The first, which was held today and is referred to as Pole Day provisionally sets the grid for the first 24 cars. At four o’clock the first 24 cars are set and the second part of Pole Day begins with the nine fastest cars each taking another qualifying run to determine the first nine positions. Tomorrow is Bump Day when the final nine cars will be slotted filling the field of 33. After the grid is full “bumping begins” starting with the slowest car in the field regardless of the day they qualified. The only cars that cannot be bumped are the first nine. Kanaan and Viso are locked into their starting positions and Barrichello, while technically provisional, is safe based on the number of cars available for Bump Day.

Kanaan, who posted the fastest lap for KVRT on each of the seven practice sessions leading up to qualifying, was the first car to take to the track this morning and initially posted a four-lap average of 225.100, which would have placed him sixth. However, during post-qualifying technical inspection the car failed due to a technical infraction of the camera ballast rule. This forced Kanaan to make a second attempt and he nailed it with the 224.751 mph average, which coincidentally, again put him sixth on the speed charts and got him back into the Fast Nine while also knocking his childhood friend Barrichello out of the top-nine. The 37-year-old Brazilian will be contesting his 11th Indy 500. He has qualified in the top-six in eight of his 11 attempts at the Speedway with one pole, in 2005. In 10 previous races he has finished in the top-10 five times with a best showing of second in 2004 (placed third in 2003, fourth in 2011 and fifth in 2008). Kanaan, who has led a total of 214 laps at the speedway and is the only driver in history to lead laps in his first seven Indy 500 starts.

“It was tough qualifying the first time and even tougher the second,” Kanaan said. “The crew was very emotional because they felt they let me down. But, how many times have I let them down. We win as a team and lose as at team. I’m just glad we were able to get back into the Fast Nine. We will finish working on our race setup tomorrow and then see what we can do about getting my first win at Indy next Sunday.”

Viso had a superb, but not unsurprising qualifying effort. Going out 27th and in extreme heat (the temperature was 87 degrees and the track temperature reached 134 degrees) which slows the cars, Viso ran four very consistent laps that varied by less than .6 of a second from his fastest lap (224.614 mph) to his slowest (224.095 mph). Viso, who recorded the second fastest lap for KVRT on five of the seven practice days, has approached this Indy 500 with a business like attitude working with his team methodically to produce a solid qualifying car. This approach really paid off especially with the treacherous track conditions he found himself dealing with today. Today’s ninth place qualifying position is by far the best he has recorded in five attempts here at the Brickyard. His previous high was 18th in 2011. In four previous races the 27-year-old Venezuelan has a best finish is 24th

“We had a big improvement in speed for qualifying,” Viso said. “It shows the hard work the team has done this week. As I have said before we had our downs, however obviously today was one of our highs. We are starting toward the front of the grid and ahead of the pack, for such a long race that is always an advantage. You want to have a much clean air as possible and out of the way of any incidents. Now our goal is to work to have a great race car that will take us to the end of the race and that is all I am looking for right now. I am very thankful for all the hard effort my crew made this week and hopefully our dream will come true a next weekend.”

Barrichello, qualifying for his first Indy 500, also produced a strong qualifying effort. Going out last of the KVRT drivers, he had an even more consistent four laps then Viso with his fast lap (224.412 mph) a little over .3 of second faster than his slowest (224.191 mph). The attempt initially put him ninth on the speed charts, however when Kanaan, who coincidentally talked his close friend of over 30 years into driving an IndyCar, successfully made his second qualifying attempt it bumped Barrichello to 10th and out of the Fast Nine. Never-the-less the qualifying effort was outstanding considering that Barrichello is driving at the Brickyard for the first time, had not logged a lap of 224 until yesterday and had never even been on an oval until May 7 when he ran some testing laps on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway. Barrichello who has run 448 laps, including today’s two warm-up and four qualifying laps, has run by far the most of the KVRT trio. The 39-year-old Brazilian, a veteran of 19 Formula One seasons, is 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. .

“I am really happy,” said Barrichello. “It's been one heck of a day and I can't tell you what my emotions were for the 2 hours before I got back in the car after practice. To have been able to go as fast as I have ever been around the track, makes me very proud. I want to thank everyone in KV Racing Technology, for putting me through the process of learning every stage carefully. I think today we conquered something and to have qualified in the top-10 at my first Indianapolis 500 makes me feel very privileged.”

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Series INDYCAR
Tags barrichello, chevrolet, kanaan, kvrt, viso