CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana: Mo Nunn Racing qualifying report

Kanaan on the Pole for Sunday's 500-Miler at California Speedway. Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Lola qualified on the pole today for Sunday's 500-mile CART FedEx Championship Series event at California Speedway.  Kanaan was the only ...

Kanaan on the Pole for Sunday's 500-Miler at California Speedway.

Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Lola qualified on the pole today for Sunday's 500-mile CART FedEx Championship Series event at California Speedway.  Kanaan was the only driver to break the 232-mph barrier during today's single-car qualifying session with a lap of 31.483 seconds (232.011 mph) around the 2-mile high-banked tri-oval.  It was Kanaan's second pole in the last three events (the last one coming on the temporary street circuit in downtown Miami for the Oct. 6 race), his third for Mo Nunn Racing (the other coming on the mile oval at Chicago in 2001), and the fourth of his career (his first pole came at Long Beach in 1999).  It also gives Kanaan his third front-row start of the season.  He qualified second to Bruno Junqueira at Japan's Twin Ring Motegi last April.

Junqueira will start Sunday's race on the outside of the front row after a lap of 31.601 seconds (231.145 mph).  Defending race winner Cristiano da Matta, who already locked up the series championship at Miami last month, qualified third with a lap of 31.679 seconds (230.575 mph).  Kanaan was fastest in two of the three practice sessions leading up to today's qualifying session.  He turned a lap of 31.006 seconds (235.580 mph) in practice this morning to lead all competitors and earn the final spot in the single-car qualifying order.

Race time Sunday is 12:30 p.m. PST (3:30 p.m. EST).  SPEED TV will carry all the action live beginning with a 3 p.m. EST pre-race show.

TONY KANAAN QUOTES

"What can I say -- we were a mile-an-hour quicker than everybody else, and it's been that way pretty much all weekend, so far.  It felt great to give Bruno (Junqueira) a little payback for what he did to me in Japan.  I thought I had the pole won there, but he went after me and beat my time.  Today, it was the other way around, and it sure feels good.  Obviously, I have a very good car.  I had a little help on my practice time this morning, but I also made some runs all alone and was able to get into the high 231s pretty consistently.  So we qualified about where I thought we would, speed-wise.  I got the 232 on my first qualifying lap and the team didn't call me in, so I just put it in seventh gear and had a very enjoyable cruise around the track on the second lap.  It's great to be on the pole, but if there's one race where it's not an advantage to be on the pole, it's here.  I might be leading in Turn 1, but I could fall back by Turn 2, and then be back in the lead by Turn 3.  Who knows, it's always that kind of a day here.  About the only advantage to starting up front is clean air at the start -- which absolutely wasn't the case starting behind Bruno and Cristiano (da Matta) at Australia last weekend.  There will be a lot of passing tomorrow.  But people will be taking good care of each other.  Things got a little bit crazy in the middle of the race last year.  We'll be running 33-lap stints, maximum (as mandated by CART's new pit stop rules this season), and I don't think you're going to see teams get too crazy with their strategy.  Everyone will probably go all 33 laps every time, and they'll only come in early if they have a problem or we have a well-timed yellow.  For now, I think I'll enjoy this a little bit with my guys because they've done an excellent job since the minute we unloaded the cars.  But tomorrow, it's going to be a long day and I just hope we'll be there, fighting for the win at the end."

-mnr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Mo Nunn