TONY KANAAN -- ...
TONY KANAAN -- #55 HOLLYWOOD/MO NUNN RACING HONDA-REYNARD
**This weekend marks Kanaan's 71st career Champ Car start and his 32nd 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 36 top-10s.
**Kanaan stands ninth in the CART FedEx Championship Series driver championship with 77 points after finishing seventh at Lausitz, Germany, and eighth at Corby, England, earlier this month. He has scored points in the last six events and at 11 of this season's 16 events contested thus far.
**Last year here, Kanaan started 10th and finished 10th in the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz Reynard. In his previous two visits, he was third here enroute to taking Rookie of the Year honors in 1998 with Tasman Motorsports, and he was ninth in 1999 with Forsythe Championship Group.
**In 21 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 street circuits.
"Well, it's back to business in the States. I never felt so good to get back home as I did after Germany and England. That was one of the most frightening and heartbreaking two weeks in my life, first with the tragedies in New York and Washington, and then with one of the most violent accidents I have seen in my 15 years of racing ending the career of my teammate and one of my best friends (Alex Zanardi). The President says it's good for America to get back to work, to get everything back to normal after the terrorist attacks. That's the best medicine, just like it will be for our team to carry on. I welcome my new teammate Casey Mears. I drove against him in Indy Lights (in 1997) and he's going to be a good addition to our team. My other teammate was 'Uncle Alex,' but now it feels like I'm 'Uncle Tony' to Casey. Although I'm not too much older than he is! I have to say I hope it doesn't rain in Houston on qualifying day. It was a shame in Germany and in England that I had the fastest car in practice and in the warm-up session, but we had to start according to the point standings (because of rain in Germany and water seepage on the track in England). The result in England would have been much different, for sure. I really wanted to win that one for Alex. Hey, he's going to be okay and that is motivating all of us to win one before the end of the year."
CASEY MEARS - #66 PIONEER-WORLDCOM/MO NUNN RACING HONDA-REYNARD
**This weekend marks Mears' second career Champ Car start and his first with Mo Nunn Racing.
**The 23-year-old Mears made his Champ Car debut driving a third Team Rahal entry, sponsored by WorldCom, at last year's season finale in Fontana, Calif. He finished fourth.
**He steps into the cockpit of the #66 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reyard after a horrific accident involving this season's regular driver, Alex Zanardi, in Lausitz, Germany, on Sept. 15.
**Last year here in Houston, Mears drove a Dorricott Racing Dayton Indy Lights Series entry, earning the pole and his first Indy Lights race victory.
"Right now, I have to say I'm going into this with an open mind about everything. Obviously, we haven't had the opportunity to do any testing. But I feel really good about this weekend because I won at Houston last year (in Indy Lights). I can't wait to get to the track and get started. But, realistically, it's going to take some time to get up to speed in a Champ Car and get to know the team better. Tony (Kanaan) ran really strong here last year despite being down on horsepower, so I know the team has a good feel for set-up there. I go into every race with the intention of winning it. But, given the timeframe, I think a realistic goal would be a top-10 finish. I haven't run a temporary street course in a Champ Car. But I have run on road courses. I tested at Mid-Ohio with Walker last year. I also ran Putnam Park twice with PacWest. And I ran at Firebird with Ganassi last year. So I definitely know my way around in a Champ Car. I got to spend some time with Morris (Nunn) in Indy over the weekend and we hit it off really well. I'm excited to work with him. I've heard so many good things about him from so many drivers. It'll be great to experience it for myself."