HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Feb. 22, 1999) - Talented Irishman Jonny Kane will restart his career at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex when he competes in the Daytona Tire Challenge during the March 19-21 Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota.
After winning seven European championships, Kane quit the British Formula 3000 series early last season in hopes of landing a major ride in CART's PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship. CART FedEx Championship Series driver Dario Franchitti got him a tryout with Team Kool Green's Indy Lights program, and Kane is expected to be make a serious run for the 1999 championship, which begins with the South Florida opener.
The Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota features the FedEx Championship Series opener, including practice and qualifying on March 19-20, plus round one of NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series in Saturday's Florida Dodge Dealers 400.
Kane's resume includes championships in British Formula Ford (1994, with 13 victories), European Formula Ford, British Formula Vauxhall and British Formula Three (1997). He moved to the European Formula 3000 in 1998, but made a change early in the campaign.
"It wasn't going the way I wanted it to go, so I decided to call it a day and come to America for the summer and start talking with teams," explained the 25-year-old Irishman, who was testing at Homestead Monday and Tuesday. Kane's biggest adjustment with the new series will be racing on oval tracks.
"This is only my fourth day on an oval, so it's pretty new to me. We had an accident at the end of the day the last time I was here in December. We're already a half-second quicker today than the last time we were here, and we're already only half a second off the quickest time so far."
Franchitti, who is expected to be a top contender for the 1999 FedEx Series championship, was on hand for the test to watch his protégé.
"I've known Johnny for a very long time, since 1991," said Franchitti. "Johnny turned out for one Formula Vauxhall Jr. race. I won the championship that day, but he won the race. He's pretty good, and he's fitting in very well with the team. I'm really impressed with him. I think he's a great driver. That's one reason why I introduced him to (team owner) Barry (Green). He's the man for the job, and I think he'll do great things this year." Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex opens its season with the March 19-21 weekend. For ticket orders, call (305) 230-7223. For additional information, visit the Speedway's official website, www.racemiami.com.