CHAMPCAR/CART: Kanaan-Zanardi Texas preview

TONY KANAAN -- ...

TONY KANAAN -- #55 HOLLYWOOD/MO NUNN RACING HONDA-REYNARD

--This weekend marks Kanaan's 58th career Champ Car start and his 19th with Mo Nunn Racing. In his Champ Car career, he has one win (1999 U.S. 500), one pole (1999 Long Beach Grand Prix), three podium finishes, seven top-fives, and 28 top-10s.

--In 26 career starts on oval circuits, Kanaan has one win (1999 U.S. 500 at Michigan), two top-fives, and nine top-10s.

--Kanaan's best oval qualifying effort to date for Mo Nunn Racing was last July on the 1-mile oval at Chicago, when he put the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz Reynard third on the starting grid. That equaled his career-best oval start set twice during his 1998 Rookie of the Year campaign with Tasman Motorsports, when he started third at Rio de Janeiro and at Gateway.

--At the Long Beach Grand Prix earlier this month, Round 2 of the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series, Kanaan brought his Honda-powered car home in seventh place for the second race in a row after qualifying third. His seventh-place finish at the season-opening event at Monterrey, Mexico, was his best finish for the Mo Nunn team, having worked his way up from 12th on the starting grid.

--Kanaan reached personal sponsorship agreements this month with a pair of major companies: Brazilian health insurance provider Medial Saude, and eyewear, footwear, watch and apparel maker Oakley. Also this month, Kanaan unveiled his new-look site on the World Wide Web, www.tonykanaan.com.br, re-designed by Mo Nunn Racing partner Cinemagic.

--To the human-powered racing world, Kanaan competed in this past weekend's Coca Cola triathlon series event in Key Biscayne, Fla. He completed the quarter-mile swim, 10-mile bike ride and 3-mile run in 1 hour, 7 minutes and 30 seconds, good for 11th place overall. Fellow Brazilian CART driver Christian Fittipaldi won the event overall, finishing some 2 minutes ahead of Kanaan, while another CART driver, Miami resident Max Papis, was four minutes behind Kanaan.

TONY KANAAN:
"It'll be great to get back out on the track again. I'm rested and relaxed and ready to go after another two weekends off. But that'll be the last time we get to say that until November! We'll be working hard and fast from now on.

"I went to the shop in Indy last week to get together with Morris and my guys to take care of some business that we'll need to stay on top of if we want to fight for the championship. It's looking pretty good, so far. Looking back on last year, I had 19 points the whole season, and this year I already have 12. That's definitely a step in the right direction. Everything has been very positive, but I know we have a lot more in the car and we're capable of doing much better than seventh. We all know that, and we all know exactly what we have to do to improve.

"I'm interested to see how things will go on the track at Texas. It'll be a whole new experience for us with the high banking and all that. It looks great on TV. I just hope we can put on a good show for the fans down there. I hear they're pretty enthusiastic about their racing. It should be a lot of fun, and hopefully we'll be able to learn the track quickly. That two hours of practice on Friday is going to be critical. I hope we get a lot of green time in.

"Long Beach, I think, was a very good weekend for us until Sunday. Everything ran very smoothly and we had a very competitive car right out of the box. But Sunday morning we had a little problem in the warm-up and that cost us a lot because I hadn't run the car with full tanks ... I hadn't done a lot of stuff that I should have before starting the race. So we had to go into the race guessing on stuff that I wasn't quite happy with. But we learned a lot, and I think we'll come to Texas ready to go."

ALEX ZANARDI - #66 PIONEER-WORLDCOM/MO NUNN RACING HONDA-REYNARD

--This weekend marks Zanardi's 54th career Champ Car start and his third 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 37 top-10s.

--In 23 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 12 top-10s. His qualifying record on ovals includes poles at Homestead in 1997 and Rio de Janeiro in 1996.

--At the Long Beach Grand Prix three weekends ago, his second start for the Mo Nunn team, Zanardi qualified 20th and placed 26th after retiring just over one-third into the race with overheating problems resulting from earlier contact with the car of Bruno Junqueira.

--In his Mo Nunn Racing debut last month at Monterrey, Mexico (his first Champ Car start in 29months after recording back-to-back series championships in 1997-98), Zanardi qualified 22nd and placed 24th. Contact with lapped traffic while working his way into the top 10 led to broken suspension pieces that put him out of the race on Lap 40 of 78 laps completed that day.

ALEX ZANARDI:
"Well, here we are in our third race as a new (second Mo Nunn Racing) team, and I think I think everybody feels like we have some really good days ahead of us even though we have yet to put up the big result. We are all talented people. We saw a lot of things happening over the course of the first two race weekends that the team cannot be blamed for. There's no hiding the fact that we have gotten off to a rough start. If we are going to turn things around, it'll take an even greater effort to do it. I'm sure once we do turn it around, it will look like we are lucky. I've been through ups and downs in my career and I've seen times where you put together a great effort and you end up achieving an even greater result because you get lucky. Luck, for sure, is not something we had in the first two races.

"It will be a good change of pace to hit the oval tracks for four races in a row. All I have to say to everybody is, 'stay tuned.' For sure, as a driver, it's much more difficult to overcome a margin of a tenth of a second on an oval than it is on a road course. It's much more risky to try harder on an oval, and it's much more difficult to make gains, as well. You have to have the equipment to do well. We'll see. All these races coming up are so different. Texas is a different game from Nazareth. And Motegi, again, is a fast oval, quite a different setup. Then Milwaukee, it is more like Nazareth.

"Long Beach was just an incredible weekend. I don't really blame Junqueira for what happened. He's a rookie, he just joined the series, he's got a tough job working for a team that has won many championships. Therefore he feels obliged to do something. At then, at the end of the day, we had a contact in the previous race that was very arguable as for who was responsible. I'm not really angry for that. I'm more disappointed that I'm in that position to be taken out. At Long Beach, it really started with the troubles we had in free practice, and in qualifying, with the circuit drying up (after morning rain showers). And traffic, and all the red flags. The thing to do is to keep my head up because the world is not going to collapse. I'm always thinking about the next race. I know it's a long season. We're working hard, and we're not getting discouraged from these first couple of results, which are non-results for me. The only thing we can do is work to the best of our ability, and the results will take care of themselves."

MORRIS NUNN, TEAM OWNER - QUOTES
"We still things to improve on both sides of the team. On Tony's side, we had some issues that cost us track time in the warm-up on Sunday, and we need to fine-tune our pit stop performance, as well. On Alex's side, we're mired in an ongoing saga and the repercussions of being in the slow qualifying group (at road courses). Although some people in our group at Long Beach did get a run, it seemed every time Alex went out, there were red flags and slower traffic to deal with. There were four or five red flags, and we know that Alex obviously could have qualified quicker than he did. It was unfortunate that there were so many red flags during his session, and, on the other side of the coin, there were none in Tony's qualifying group.

"We've never been to Texas Motor Speedway.  Having never seen it, all I know
is it has 30 degrees of banking.  Michigan is 18 degrees in Turns 3 and 4,
and that's a pretty steep track.  I would want my drivers to treat that
track with great respect.  Normally, on any oval, the team owner is quite
happy to leave the place in one piece.  It's all new to us, but it's the
same for everybody.  My instructions to the drivers would be to be very
careful.  I've never been the type of owner who tells the drivers to stand
on the gas to begin with.  They should be on the limits, anyway."

-MNR

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Max Papis , Christian Fittipaldi , Mo Nunn