CHAMPCAR/CART: Kanaan/Zanardi Detroit pre-race notes and quotes

Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit - June 15-17, 2001 The Raceway on Belle Isle - Detroit, Mich. - 2.346-Mile Temporary Street Course TONY KANAAN -- ...

Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit - June 15-17, 2001
The Raceway on Belle Isle - Detroit, Mich. - 2.346-Mile Temporary Street Course


**This weekend marks Kanaan's 61st career Champ Car start and his 22nd 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 30 top-10s.

**Kanaan is currently ninth in the CART FedEx Championship Series driver point standings with 36. That's 17 more points in five events than he scored all of last season.

**Two weekends ago, at the Miller Lite 225 in Milwaukee, Kanaan started seventh and finished sixth on the historic 1-mile oval. He led eight laps, bringing his total to 112 laps led over the last three events including Nazareth, Pa., and Japan's Twin Ring Motegi.

**At Twin Ring Motegi last month, Kanaan posted the first podium finish for second-year Mo Nunn Racing, placing third behind first-time winner Kenny Brack and polesitter and runner-up Helio Castroneves.

**Last year here at Belle Isle, Kanaan broke four ribs on his left side and sustained a compound fracture to his left forearm in an accident during final qualifying. The injuries sidelined him for four races.

**In his previous two Champ Car starts at Belle Isle, Kanaan started sixth and finished eighth in his Rookie of the Year season of 1998, and he started sixth and finished sixth in 1999.

**Kanaan won here in consecutive years in Dayton Indy Lights series competition, in 1996 and 1997. The 1996 win was his first in that series, and the 1997 win propelled him to the series championship.

**In 19 career Champ Car starts on temporary street circuits, Kanaan has one pole (Long Beach 1999), one podium finish (third at Houston in 1998) and 10 top-10s.


"I always have done well at Detroit. I had a lot of success in Indy Lights, and I'm really looking forward to going there because, after last year, I have some unfinished business to take care of. Detroit is where I have had my most successful runs in America, and then last year I had the biggest downside of my career. I'm going there with my mind clear, and aiming to get my first win for Mo. I got my first Lights win there in '96, and I won again in '97. I'm much happier to be back on the road courses. This part of the schedule has always been my turning point. I always have done well in the second part of the season, starting with Detroit. Last year, I was turning some pretty hot laps before my accident. This year, we've done very well as a team since the first race, so my expectations pretty high for the second part of this season."


**This weekend marks Zanardi's 57th career Champ Car start and his sixth 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, 34 top-fives, and 38 top-10s.

**Two weekends ago at the Milwaukee Mile, Zanardi brought home his second consecutive points-producing finish with an 11th-place effort on the historic 1-mile oval.

**Zanardi's best finish this season was his seventh-place effort at Japan's Twin Ring Motegi last month, a day in which he appeared headed for a podium finish before unexpectedly running out of fuel some 15 laps from the checkered flag.

**In his last start at Belle Isle, during his second of back-to-back championship seasons in 1998, Zanardi scored a victory from the second starting position for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing. He was 11th and 26th here in 1996 and 1997, respectively.

**In 19 career Champ Car starts on temporary street circuits, Zanardi has seven wins, 11 podium finishes and 14 top-5s. He also has qualified on the pole four times, and on the front row 11 times altogether.

**In the off weekend between Milwaukee and Detroit, Zanardi moved with his wife Daniela and son Niccolo into a rented home in the Indianapolis area, where they will stay until the Vancouver event Labor Day weekend. Zanardi had been commuting to CART events this season from his home in Monte Carlo.


"Detroit is a street circuit that I like very much. It is very, very difficult. It is certainly important to start up front because it's traditionally very difficult to overtake somebody. For me it will be a little more difficult since I will still be in the slow (qualifying) session. But I'll try to take advantage of my experience there and try to build a good car for a good practice and a good qualifying session and a good race. I'll keep my fingers crossed. In the bigger picture of things, it is my duty to try to get out of the slow group this weekend. If I can get out of it at Detroit, I'll be in good shape for the rest of the season, I hope. In reality, it can turn out to be not so much a big disadvantage at Detroit as at some other places. At places like Long Beach, too, it wouldn' t have been such a disaster if it hadn't rained during qualifying. But there's nothing we can do about it. I feel pretty confident, like we were going to Japan, that for some reason we could do well here. And we showed we could do well at Japan. So we'll have to show our stuff again this weekend."


**Team owner Morris Nunn, technical director for four CART FedEx Championship Series champions (1996-99) while at Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, scored his first podium finish as team owner two events ago when Tony Kanaan brought home the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard in third place at Japan's Twin Ring Motegi.

**This season, Nunn is reunited with the driver (Zanardi) with whom he collaborated for back-to-back series titles in 1997 and 1998. They won here at Belle Isle together in 1998 from the second starting position. Nunn also engineered 1999 series champion Juan Montoya's pole qualifying effort here during that championship season.


"It's good to get back to the road courses. I think this is where Tony and Alex are really in their element. Detroit is a difficult track, but they really seem to have it down. Tony has won here twice in Lights, and he's always done well here. Last year in qualifying, he set the fastest lap of his group session on one of his very first laps out on the track. Then he was on an even faster one the very next lap, but then came his accident. It was a setback, but I think he'll be back here stronger than ever. He was very competitive here with not-the-best package. Now, his team is definitely in the groove, and I think he'll finally be able to put that first victory to rest for us really soon. Alex, on the other hand, has won here already, and he always seemed to excel on the temporary street tracks. He's been getting more and more comfortable, and his breakthrough race is not to far away. I think we'll be okay. It's going to be extremely competitive, as always. We've got a whole new (Reynard aerodynamic) package since Long Beach, so we should be in great shape going up against the Lolas. I'd be disappointed if we're not in the top 10. We should be running in the top five every time we're on the track. I'll be happy if that's the case."


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Morris Nunn , Chip Ganassi , Mo Nunn
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing