CHAMPCAR/CART: Kanaan Houston Friday practice notes

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#55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard

Tony Kanaan and the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard wrapped up a solid first day of practice today for Sunday's Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston with the second-fastest time of a wet afternoon session over the 1.527-mile downtown street course in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center. His fast afternoon lap of 1 minute, 12.609 seconds (an average of 75.710 mph) was surpassed only by Shinji Nakano's 1:12.499 (76.824 mph) effort. Kenny Brack was third-fastest in the wet this afternoon at 1:12.766 (76.557 mph). After a dry opening session this morning, during which Kanaan recorded the ninth-fastest lap of 1:01.808 (88.940 mph), a light rain persisted throughout the 90-minute afternoon session.

Kanaan's new teammate, Casey Mears, got behind the wheel of the #66 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard for the first time today after Alex Zanardi's racing accident in Germany three weeks ago. Mears' best lap this morning was a 1:03.615 (86.414 mph) effort that was 25th fastest among all drivers. Mears was 23rd-fastest in this afternoon's wet session in 1:16.303 (72.044 mph). Gil de Ferran had the fastest time of the day this morning with a lap of 1:01.222 (89.791 mph), followed by Christian Fittipaldi at 1:01.406 (89.522 mph) and Helio Castroneves at 1:01.418 (89.505 mph).

Practice resumes Saturday morning with qualifying set to begin at 1:45 p.m. local time (2:45 p.m. EDT). The local weather forecast calls for continued rain showers through tonight and tomorrow morning, while fair conditions are predicted for race day, Sunday. The CART qualifying show will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 2:30 a.m. EDT Sunday. Race time Sunday at 1 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EDT) with a live broadcast set for ESPN.

TONY KANAAN
"It was a pretty good day for us. We waited in the pits for a while before going out this morning so some rubber could get laid down on the track. Then we tried a few things that didn't exactly work, but we finished the session pretty well. Then it rained during the afternoon session, which changed everything completely. But we thought it was a good idea to run and get a feel for the setup in the wet just in case it rains on Sunday. It's not supposed to, but you never know for sure. We made some gains in the wet, so if we're able to make the car go faster in those conditions, we'll be in that much better shape once we run here in the dry again. We've been strong on the ovals - especially at Germany and England - and we've had good days on road courses and street courses. So we have every reason to believe we'll be strong here. We definitely miss Alex (Zanardi), but his positive attitude in the hospital back in Germany is really keeping our spirits high for everyone on the team. We have no excuses. Our only mission is to win a race and send him the trophy."

-mnu-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Casey Mears , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Alex Zanardi , Tony Kanaan , Shinji Nakano , Kenny Brack , Mo Nunn