Tony Kanaan ...
#55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz Reynard Michigan 500 -- July 20, 2000 -- Special Medical Evaluation At Michigan Speedway -- Brooklyn, Mich. (2-mile tri-oval) Round 11 of 20 on the 2000 CART FedEx Championship Series
KANAAN CLEARED TO DRIVE FOR THIS WEEKEND'S MICHIGAN 500
Tony Kanaan was cleared to drive in this weekend's Michigan 500 after a brief on-track medical evaluation in his #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz Reynard. Kanaan broke his left forearm and four ribs on his left side in a final qualifying run at Detroit's Belle Isle on July 17. The arm injury required surgery to repair with two metal plates and 14 screws. Kanaan's rigorous rehabilitation effort over the last four weeks included more than 700 laps in a go-kart during the past five days under the direction of CART orthopedic surgeon Dr. Terry Trammel in Indianapolis.
Kanaan, who scored his first Champ Car victory here last year, drove a total of six laps around the 2-mile Michigan Speedway oval this morning. He reached a top lap speed average of 223 mph. Practice for Sunday's Michigan 500 begins Friday morning with qualifying set for Saturday. Race time is 1:30 p.m. EDT Sunday, with a live broadcast set for ABC-TV.
"I'm feeling absolutely great. This is a wonderful feeling to be back in my race car. I tried not to get all excited about coming back. Last night, I went to bed at a normal hour, and I woke up this morning as if it was going to be just another day at the office. But when they strapped me into the car and fired up the motor, chills ran up and down my spine. It was great. It seemed like it didn't take long to get up to speed. The car felt great. I never really stood on the gas. That wasn't the purpose of this run. I just wanted to make sure the arm and the ribs felt fine. My Champ Car here requires only a fraction of the steering input that my go-kart needs, so this was really a piece of cake. If we were racing on a road course this weekend, I don't think there's any way I could have raced. Thank goodness for the scheduling.
"I'm really looking forward to doing it for real starting tomorrow morning. I just want to thank all the people who took such good care of me. I owe a lot to them. I hope I can go out this weekend and begin to pay them back with a strong finish. The last four weeks seem like forever, but now I'm back and this is sure to be one of the happiest weekends of my life.""
"Tony's back. He's made an amazing comeback after that terrible accident. I think he's all the wiser for it, and without question he's in better shape now than he was before the accident. He's been working out night and day since he got his clearance to do so. Now, we start the second half of the season with a clean slate. Tony's got a new left arm, so to speak, and we'll get to pick up probably a little further along than where he left off. Bryan Herta did a solid job filling in, and we've been able to make some significant progress with our engine and chassis package. It'll be interesting to see how it all works out