Tony Kanaan and the ...
Tony Kanaan and the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard started the new season today with a solid opening day of practice for Sunday's Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix. He covered the 2.1-mile road course in Monterrey's scenic Fundidora Park with a fast lap of 1 minute, 19.505 seconds (an average of 95.269 mph) during an extended afternoon practice session for all competitors. That placed him eighth in the order. Today's scheduled two-hour morning practice was halted a little more than a half-hour into the session due to slippery conditions on the brand new track surface. Subsequent practice sessions by the support series that are also competing here this weekend helped clear off dust and silt and laid down rubber necessary to make this afternoon's 2-1/2 hour Champ Car practice session safer and more interesting. Kanaan's brand new teammate, Alex Zanardi, endured some of the not-so-unexpected first-day-of-the-season complications and managed 19th on the speed charts with a fast lap of 1:21.161 (93.326 mph). Defending series champion Gil de Ferran turned the fastest lap of the day at 1:18.581 (96.390 mph).
Practice resumes Saturday morning with qualifying set to begin at 1:45 p.m. local time (2:45 p.m. ET). ESPN2 will air its CART Qualifying show at 3 a.m. ET Sunday. Kanaan and Zanardi will qualify in the first of two group sessions set for 30 minutes apiece. By virtue of new qualifying rules instituted by CART this year, groupings are based on last season's final driver points standings. Kanaan finished 19th, and Zanardi was enjoying a year-long racing "sabbatical." Race time Sunday is 3 p.m. local time (4 p.m. ET) with a live broadcast set for ABC-TV.
"Let's call it a good day. It's great to be back racing again. I was very excited in the beginning, so I think that long delay when they were trying to decide what to do helped me come down a bit. That helped a lot because I was very focused all afternoon. I'm very concerned about my qualifying situation because I'm in the slow group, and there's no way we're going to be faster than the fast group. But that's what we have to deal with. I'm happy with the engine. Chassis-wise, I can't say much because the track is still coming in. I think I would be happy starting in the top 12, if that's possible, and then finish well so we don't have to qualifying with the slow group at Long Beach (Round 2, April 8)."