HOMESTEAD, Fla. (March 21) -- It doesn't take long for a veteran race engineer with a track record like Morris Nunn's to judge whether a driver has what it takes to win championships. Considering only a little more than three months -- and just...
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (March 21) -- It doesn't take long for a veteran race engineer with a track record like Morris Nunn's to judge whether a driver has what it takes to win championships.
Considering only a little more than three months -- and just a handful of days at the test track -- have gone by since he launched Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing last December, Nunn isn't quite ready to predict the fifth-consecutive CART FedEx Championship Series driving title under his technical direction.
Nonetheless, he most certainly likes what he has seen so far out of young Brazilian driving talent Tony Kanaan, a Miami resident who will pilot the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz Reynard beginning with this weekend's season-opening Grand Prix of Miami (March 24-26) over the 1.5-mile Homestead Miami Speedway oval.
"We are very pleased and impressed with Tony's performance so far in the testing we've done, both on ovals and road courses," said Nunn, who helped Jimmy Vasser, Alex Zanardi (twice) and Juan Montoya to the CART series title the last four years, and also worked with 1989 series champion Emerson Fittipaldi.
"I'd rate Tony right up there with the guys I've worked with before, based on what I've seen so far," Nunn continued. As a rule, I like to see at least three test sessions and three race weekends before issuing a judgement about a driver's championship caliber, and we haven't done any qualifying or racing with Tony, yet. But, he's very quick, and I believe so far in his career his abilities have been tremendously underestimated. He's already run more miles in testing with us than I think he's had before, and he has been quite pleased with the changes we've been making to the race car. He's definitely getting an education."
Kanaan, likewise, finds his experience particularly enlightening since making the switch after a two-year run with Forsythe Championship Racing, and has found that working with Nunn is already even better than he expected.
"We've worked together, now, at what I would consider four very good test sessions, and I've already learned more than I have in the last three years," said Kanaan, the 1998 CART Rookie of the Year and last year's U.S. 500 winner and Long Beach Grand Prix polesitter.
"Morris has this ability to show you things that, when you stop and think about them, are very obvious things. But they are things that can make a big difference. I had a feeling what was in store for me when I agreed to come drive for Morris. But now, I'm more excited than ever about this year. And we haven't even had a race, yet!"
Showtime finally has arrived as the Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing era begins in earnest this weekend. The team, which also features general manager Steve Newey (formerly with Patrick Racing) and team manager Brad Filbey (formerly with Team Gordon), is backed by Hollywood and Mercedes-Benz, in addition to the associate sponsorship support of Firestone, Magneti Marelli and Turbo Garrett, .
Practice for the Grand Prix of Miami, Round 1 of 20 on the 2000 CART FedEx Championship Series, begins Friday (March 24), with qualifying set for Saturday (March 25). Race time Sunday (March 26) is 2 p.m. EST with a same-day, tape-delayed broadcast set for ABC-TV at 4:30 p.m.