CHAMPCAR/CART: Kanaan/Mears Gold Coast pre-race notes/quotes

Mo Nunn Racing Honda Indy 300 - Oct. 26-28, 2001 Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia - 2.795-Mile Temporary Street Course Round 20 of 21 on the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series TONY KANAAN -- ...

Mo Nunn Racing
Honda Indy 300 - Oct. 26-28, 2001
Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia - 2.795-Mile Temporary Street Course
Round 20 of 21 on the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series


**This weekend marks Kanaan's 73rd career Champ Car start and his 34th with Mo Nunn Racing. In his Champ Car career, he has one win (1999 U.S. 500), two poles (1999 at Long Beach, 2001 at Chicago), four podium finishes, 10 top-fives, and 37 top-10s.

**Kanaan fell to 10th in the CART FedEx Championship Series driver championship with 83 points after finishing eighth at Laguna Seca two weekends ago. He is tied with series points leader Gil de Ferran for the longest active points-scoring streak at eight races in a row. He's scored in nine of the last 10 events, and 13 of this season's 18 events contested thus far.

**Last year here at Surfers Paradise, Kanaan started seventh and finished eighth in the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz Reynard. In his first two seasons here, Kanaan qualified eighth and finished seventh with Forsythe Championship Racing in 1999, and qualified 14th and finished seventh during his CART Rookie of the Year season of 1998 with Tasman Motorsports.

**In 22 career Champ Car starts on temporary street circuits, Kanaan has one pole (Long Beach 1999), one podium finish (third at Houston in 1998) and 11 top-10s. He was fourth on the streets of Vancouver last month, and seventh at Long Beach earlier this season - both temporary circuits.

"Well, first of all, probably the most fun we have all year is down in Australia. There is just so much to do. That's why a bunch of us drivers go down there 10 days early. Beautiful scenery. The people take such good care of us. I could make a third home there, easy. By the time we get to the race weekend, we're ready to rock-and-roll. It's been such a long season, and so much has happened to our team and around the world this year, that it's nice to let loose just a little bit. But when we get to the race weekend, it's all business. It's a beautiful place to do business. The way the fans react to our coming to town, you really get the feeling we're the most important racing series in the world. It'd definitely fun while it lasts. Our team has been pretty strong all year. We've had bad luck in the strategy department. Most of the top teams have. You start to wonder whether it's worth working your tail off for a good car in qualifying when the teams who qualify in the back seem to have an equal chance at winning - especially if it's a race with a lot of yellows. Australia being a street track, you can expect a fair amount of cautions. We had a good car there last year, but it was another one of those strategy races last year. We'll just do our best and hope for the best. That's all you can ever do."


**This weekend marks Mears' fourth career Champ Car start and his third with Mo Nunn Racing.

**The 23-year-old Mears, from Bakersfield, Calif., made his debut with Mo Nunn Racing and only his second career Champ Car start at the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston. He qualified 25th in the #66 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard and brought it home in 17th, two laps down. Two weekends ago at Laguna Seca, Mears qualified 18th and finished 12th to score his first championship points for the team.

**In his first Champ Car start, Mears drove a third Team Rahal entry, sponsored by WorldCom, at last year's season finale in Fontana, Calif. He finished fourth.

**He stepped into the cockpit of the #66 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard after this season's regular driver, Alex Zanardi, was involved in a racing accident during the latter stages of the American Memorial 500 in Lausitz, Germany, on Sept. 15.

**This is Mears' first start here on the streets of Surfers Paradise.

**Mears' uncle, three-time CART champion Rick Mears, is donating $100 for every lap Casey completes during these final four races of the season to the Alex Zanardi Foundation. He has completed 176 of 178 possible laps thus far at Houston and Laguna Seca. This weekend's race is 65 laps. Next weekend's season finale at Fontana is 250 laps.

**This past weekend, Mears qualified 15th and finished ninth driving the TropArtic Pontiac in an ARCA series event at Talladega, Ala.

"Obviously I'm really looking forward to going to Australia. I've never been there for a race. I hear it's a fun track and a great place to go and the people are friendly. Racing-wise, I think we can do really well. We've been improving every time we've been on the track. Definitely, it's not going to be like it was at Houston and Laguna Seca, where I've driven before (in Indy Lights). I knew which way the corners went before I ever got on the track. For sure I'll be at a disadvantage to the guys who have been to Australia before. I'm getting there early and I'm really going to spend some time studying the track with my engineers. I do hear it's a technical track, so we'll have our work cut out for us. But I've got good people telling me what to do in Morris and Tony. I'll learn the ins and outs pretty quickly, I'm sure."


**Last year here at Surfers Paradise, Nunn saw his first-year team, with Tony Kanaan behind the wheel of the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard, qualify seventh and finish eighth.

**As technical director at Target/Chip Ganassi Racing during four consecutive CART championship seasons by Jimmy Vasser (1996), Alex Zanardi (1997-98) and Juan Montoya (1999), Nunn won here from the pole with Vasser in 1996 and with Zanardi in 1998. He also won here with Zanardi from the outside-front-row in 1997.

**Nunn was reunited with Zanardi this season as the venerable Italian driver came on board to pilot the #66 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard before suffering serious injuries during the latter stages of the American Memorial 500 last month at Lausitz, Germany. Zanardi lost both of his legs in the accident, but is progressing well in a Berlin Hospital and is expected to return home to Italy later this month, or early next month.

"I don't know what to say about our chances in Australia. We're still a little perplexed at how teams who qualify in the back seem to be winning these races with such regularity. That's the sport of it, I guess, but there's something that's just not right about that and I'm not exactly sure if there is a solution that will suit everybody. We've been fairly strong all year with our Hollywood car and should be once again this weekend. Casey has certainly shown he is more than capable of handling the responsibility of carrying on with our Pioneer-WorldCom car. Once again, he did everything we asked of him at Laguna. He's learning his lessons well, and certainly left Laguna Seca with more confidence that we could have hoped for. This will be a new experience for him, driving on a track he's never seen. But, judging by how he's done so far, I'm sure he'll figure it out by the time it matters."


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Jimmy Vasser , Alex Zanardi , Tony Kanaan , Rick Mears , Chip Ganassi , Mo Nunn
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing