CHAMPCAR/CART: Kanaan/Zanardi Portland preview

Portland International Raceway - Portland, Ore. - 1.969-Mile Road Course TONY KANAAN -- ...

Portland International Raceway - Portland, Ore. - 1.969-Mile Road 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 10th in the CART FedEx Championship Series driver point standings with 36. That's 17 more points through six events than he scored all of last season.

**Last weekend, at The Raceway on Belle Isle near downtown Detroit, Kanaan sustained a mild concussion in a Saturday qualifying accident that forced him to sit out Sunday's race. It was the second year in a row that Kanaan was injured during qualifying at Detroit. Last year's incident led to a broken left forearm and four broken ribs that caused Kanaan to miss the next three events, including here at PIR.

**Prior to last weekend's Detroit event, Kanaan had a streak of three consecutive races in which he led laps - on the small ovals at Nazareth, Twin Ring Motegi and Milwaukee. He totaled 112 laps led during that span, and earned his first podium finish of the season and for Mo Nunn Racing at Motegi with a third-place finish.

**Last year here at PIR, Bryan Herta substituted for the then-injured Kanaan, driving to a 19th-place finish after qualifying 20th.

**In his CART Rookie of the Year season of 1998, Kanaan achieved his best result of that season to date, finishing fourth for Tasman Motorsports Group.

**In 15 career Champ Car starts on permanent road courses, Kanaan has one podium finish, three top-fives and seven top-10s.


"I didn't race at Portland last year. I'm definitely looking forward to getting back there. It's always been one of my favorite places to race. Last weekend was a tough break for me in Detroit. Last year was a tough break for me at Detroit. There is something between me and that track because we're just not getting along well right now. It's a good thing we still got out of there in the top 10 in the championship. We're still in the fast (qualifying) group, and that's a big advantage for us. This weekend, we'll start from scratch again because it's our first true road course of the season. We struggled at Detroit, but there is nothing that carries over from that track to this one. I hope we can make our breakthrough at Portland. I'm not expecting miracles, but I'm feeling stronger than ever right now. The accident last weekend didn't affect me at all, except for the fact that June 16, 2001 doesn't exist in my head anymore. Portland is a great place to come back to from something like that. From a car standpoint, we had great tests on the road course at Homestead during the winter, so we'll hit the ground running as soon as we get to Portland."


**This weekend marks Zanardi's 58th career Champ Car start and his seventh 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.

**Last week at Detroit, Zanardi qualified 15th and saw his race day end less than four laps into Sunday's Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix when his car tangled with that of Michel Jourdain in an accident that sent both into the Turn 3 tire wall. Neither driver was injured.

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

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

**Two-time series champion Zanardi was a two-time winner at PIR while driving for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing. In his Rookie of the Year season of 1996, Zanardi scored his first Champ Car victory from the pole in a race that opened the floodgates after a miserable first part of the season that saw him finish just once in the top 10 in the first eight events. Portland 1996 was his first of three victories from the pole that season, and started a string of six podium finishes in his final eight events. That set the stage for his back-to-back championship seasons of 1997 and 1998. Zanardi also won here in 1998.

**In 15 career Champ Car starts on permanent road courses, Zanardi has six wins, 11 podium finishes and 13 top-5s. He also has qualified on the pole four times, and on the front row seven times altogether.


"Portland is really a beautiful place ... a fantastic city, and the area surrounding it is quite marvelous. The racetrack is not huge, and I can't say it's my favorite, but I have great memories and I've done very well there. Unfortunately this does not necessarily speak for the present. The fact that we've been struggling a bit, and again at the last race in Detroit, our performance is not what we were hoping it would be. This gives us concern. But the track at Portland certainly gives us characteristics that will better suit our car than the street courses we've raced on. Hopefully we can aim for and get a good result, which is kind of needed right now. I hope I can have good fortune again, as I have in the past there, and find that some pretty girls are handing me roses at the end of the day on Sunday."


**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 last month 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 together here at PIR in 1996 and 1998. Nunn also engineered 1999 series champion Juan Montoya's pole qualifying effort here and second-place finish during that championship season.


"It will be so good to get to Portland. We're certainly ready for a change in scenery. Detroit was obviously a disaster for us last weekend. But in the course of a 21-race season, those things are going to happen once in awhile, although they are very, very disappointing. It happened to Ganassi in Japan. Carl Haas came away from Milwaukee with two wrecked cars. But you've got to treat it like a bad golf shot. You have to get it out of your head and concentrate on the next one. Detroit happened. There's nothing we can to change that. The things that went wrong were fairly apparent, so we know what we have to do to fix the problems we had. Portland looks like a fairly easy track, but it's very difficult to make gains once you set yourself a fast time. It's difficult to make improvements once you're up to speed because there are not very many parts on the track where you can find time. It's a pretty short, power-oriented circuit. You have two long straights and not many corners on the racetrack. But maybe that's a good thing after a weekend like we had in Detroit ... keeping things nice and simple!"


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Carl Haas , Morris Nunn , Chip Ganassi , Michel Jourdain , Mo Nunn
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing