CHAMPCAR/CART: Kanaan/Zanardi Chicago pre-race notes/quotes

MO NUNN RACING Target Grand Prix - July 27-29, 2001 Chicago Motor Speedway - Cicero, Ill. - 1-Mile Oval TONY KANAAN -- ...

Target Grand Prix - July 27-29, 2001
Chicago Motor Speedway - Cicero, Ill. - 1-Mile Oval


** This weekend marks Kanaan's 65th career Champ Car start and his 26th with Mo Nunn Racing. In his Champ Car career, he has one win (1999 U.S. 500), one pole (1999 Long Beach Grand Prix), four podium finishes, eight top-fives, and 31 top-10s.

** Kanaan remained in 13th in the CART FedEx Championship Series driver point standings with 37 despite last weekend's disappointing result at the Michigan 500. He started fifth and was running consistently in the top three for the first two-thirds of the race before an alternator failure forced his early exit and relegated him to a 21st-place finish.

** Add another lap led at Michigan to bring Kanaan's season total to 115. He led laps during a three-race stretch from Nazareth to Twin Ring Motegi to Milwaukee, a span in which he earned his first podium finish of the season and for Mo Nunn Racing (at Motegi) with a third-place finish.

** The top-five qualifying spot at Michigan was Kanaan's fifth in 11 attempts this season and his third top-five starting spot in a row. His best efforts to date have been Long Beach (third), Motegi (fourth), Cleveland (fifth), Toronto (fourth) and Michigan (fifth).

** Last year here at Chicago Motor Speedway, Kanaan had his best qualifying effort of the 2000 season, putting his #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz Reynard third on the grid. He ran in the top three before retiring with gearbox trouble on Lap 146 of a scheduled 225 laps. In 1999, with Forsythe Championship Racing, Kanaan started 15th and finished 11th in the inaugural Target Grand Prix here.

** In 30 career starts on oval circuits, Kanaan has one win (1999 U.S. 500 at Michigan), three top-fives, and 11 top-10s.


"Chicago is a race where I definitely want to finish what I started there last year. It was a breakthrough race for us then because I qualified third. I had probably the best car there than I had anyplace last season. It felt great during the race, and it was a very, very fun day until my gearbox went away on me. I think we should be very competitive there again, especially this time with my Honda engine. It's been so frustrating, lately, because we've had a great car the last three weekends and one thing or another put us out of contention. Part of it you can blame on us still being a relatively new team, but part of it is just, plain bad luck. We know we can win. I feel it coming. The guys have been keeping their heads down and working hard through all of it, and that is going to pay off."


** This weekend marks Zanardi's 62nd career Champ Car start and his 11th with Mo Nunn Racing, which he joined this past offseason after a two-year hiatus from the series. He has 15 career wins, 28 podium finishes, 35 top-fives, and 39 top-10s.

** Last weekend at the Michigan 500, Zanardi retired on Lap 180 with an alternator failure. He started 14th and worked his way into the top six before the failure became terminal.

** In 26 starts on oval circuits, Zanardi has two career wins (1997 U.S. 500 at Michigan, 1998 at Gateway), seven podium finishes, 10 top-fives, and 13 top-10s. His qualifying record on ovals includes poles at Homestead in 1997 and Rio de Janeiro in 1996.


"It would be really cool to finish on the podium so I can get Chip (Ganassi, his former team owner) to hand me a trophy at the end. I'm just kidding, actually. From what I hear, Chip puts on a tremendous event at Chicago Motor Speedway. This will be my first one and I can't wait to get there. Chicago is a fabulous place, and our sponsors from Pioneer and WorldCom will be out in force. Needless to say, I have some big shoes to fill as the Pioneer-WorldCom car (of Cristiano da Matta) won this race last year. The last race we did on this kind of oval circuit was at Milwaukee, where our car was competitive. We made a great run at the end and picked up several spots. So we finished with some great momentum. Unfortunately, we just started too far back and had a pit lane speed violation that set us back. I 'm obviously hoping we can get a good result. It seems like that's what I always say. But it would be more welcome than ever right now. Every weekend we show signs of competitiveness, like we did last Sunday at Michigan once I got my car sorted out a couple of pit stops into the race. We were running as fast as the leaders and I was ready to make a charge at the end. But, unfortunately, we had another problem that ended our day before we were ready. This weekend, I hope it all falls together."


** This season, Nunn is reunited with the driver (Zanardi) with whom he collaborated on back-to-back series titles in 1997 and 1998 for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing. This is their first time at Chicago Motor Speedway together. Nunn also was technical director at Ganassi during the championship seasons of Jimmy Vasser (1996) and Juan Montoya (1999). Nunn won here with Montoya in 1999, coming from the 10th spot on the starting grid.

** Nunn scored his first podium finish as team owner in May when Tony Kanaan brought home the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard in third place at Japan's Twin Ring Motegi.


"All I can say is that we're due for another big result. We got our first podium back in Japan and thought maybe that would open the floodgates. That may have been wishful thinking, but it's not for lack of effort that we just haven't been able to put together the perfect weekend that you need to have in this series if you're going to come away with a win. I hate to keep saying we're only a second-year team on Tony's side, and a brand new team on Alex's side, because that's not entirely the reason things have turned out they way they have during this latest stretch of races. Tony has usually been running on all cylinders from the moment we hit the track on Friday morning. Alex has been running better and better on race day. It's just a matter of having everything go right from beginning to end. It's so competitive in this series right now that you can't get away with a single mistake or a setback. Fortunately, everybody on our team knows that, and we 're bound and determined to be winners. Hopefully that will happen at Chicago."


Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Tony Kanaan , Cristiano da Matta , Mo Nunn
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing