KANAAN HAPPY TO RETURN TO LAGUNA EARNS THIRD IN QUALIFYING IndyCar Star Battles Lap For Lap With Porsches in Wild Qualifying Session MONTEREY, Calif. -- Former IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan boasted a wide smile when he...
KANAAN HAPPY TO RETURN TO LAGUNA EARNS THIRD IN QUALIFYING
IndyCar Star Battles Lap For Lap With Porsches in Wild Qualifying Session
MONTEREY, Calif. -- Former IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan boasted a wide smile when he jumped from the No. 26 XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-01a prototype sports car following American Le Mans Series qualifying Friday at Laguna Seca Raceway.
The personable Brazilian gave the tough Penske Porsches all they could handle in the 20-minute qualifying session on the tight 2.238-mile, 11-turn circuit in preparation for Saturday's Monterey Sports Car Championships. Kanaan and his teammate, Bryan Herta, will start third Saturday.
Kanaan quickly established himself as a contender for the pole with his a lap of 1 minute, 11.225 seconds in the first five minutes of qualifying. He jumped to a 1:10.913 (113.615 miles per hour) before the Porsches of Sasha Maassen and Timo Bernhard were able slip past him late in the session.
Joining Kanaan and Herta on the second row for Saturday's four-hour contest, the final race of the 12-event 2007 ALMS tour, will be the Acura duo of David Brabham and Stefan Johansson in the No. 9 Highcroft Acura ARX-01a. Brabham, the overall pole winner at Houston this year, clocked a speed of 113.315 m.p.h. to start fourth.
Mexican star Adrian Fernandez looked to be a contender for the pole Friday, too. The fan favorite had been quickest in Thursday's testing and Friday morning practice with his No. 15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura Lola B06/40. Fernandez ran consistently in the top four in qualifying before settling for fifth in the LMP2 class. Fernandez will team with Luis Diaz in Saturday's 2:45 p.m. race.
TONY KANAAN (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01a): "It was a good day for the XM Satellite Acura team today. I can see that we are improving with the setup of the car. Of course, we also are getting ready for the 2008 season because we need to work on getting closer to those Penske Porsches. I know that the Acura and HPD folks are working very hard to get this program up with the Penskes. They set a very high bar to reach. It is so much fun to race here. I have not been here since 2002 [in Champ Car]. So it is very exciting to come back to Laguna Seca. This is one of my favorite tracks. I look forward to racing the Acura here. It is a blast for me."
DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01a): "We improved the car and moved up a bit from the practice runs. I was a little disappointed since Tony [Kanaan] was able to get us at the end. But overall it was a good move forward. We are much happier with the Highcroft Acura for the race. We have a much bigger operating window for the race. When we got here, we didn't have a good race setup. But we feel good about the settings for Saturday. Passing will be tough here but that is because of the level of competition. The traffic always plays a key role here. I feel much better today with our car and we'll see how things go after four hours tomorrow."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura Lola 06/40): "We have been consistent with the Lowe's Acura this weekend so far. We were quickest when it was cooler, both in testing and practice. This afternoon [Friday], things heated up and the car wasn't as good. It is supposed to be cooler on Saturday, so that will help our car. Our car is good on the smoother tracks and this course is very smooth so I expect us to be very competitive in the race. It is a four-hour event here and we need to get to the finish. That is our goal. Of course, we would love to win here."