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

Mo Nunn Racing Molson Indy Toronto - July 13-15, 2001 Exhibition Place - Toronto, Ontario, Canada - 1.721-Mile Temporary Street Course TONY KANAAN -- ...

Mo Nunn Racing
Molson Indy Toronto - July 13-15, 2001
Exhibition Place - Toronto, Ontario, Canada - 1.721-Mile Temporary Street Course


** This weekend marks Kanaan's 63rd career Champ Car start and his 24th 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 remains 13th in the CART FedEx Championship Series driver point standings with 34, looking to rebound after enduring a streak of misfortune at Detroit, Portland and Cleveland. . At Detroit, he sustained a mild concussion during Saturday qualifying that kept him out of Sunday's race. At Portland, he got caught up in an opening-lap accident that sidelined him for the remainder of the day. At Cleveland, he was knocked off the track on the very first turn of the race and rebounded to run competitive lap times but finished only 16th.

** Prior to that stretch, Kanaan had a streak of three consecutive races in which he led laps - on the short 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 Toronto, Bryan Herta substituted for the then-injured Kanaan (broken left forearm, four broken ribs sustained in a qualifying accident at Detroit two races prior). Herta qualified 18th and retired early in the race with a mechanical problem. Kanaan returned to action the following weekend at Michigan after missing four races in all.

** In 20 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 love coming to Toronto. I'm really sorry I missed it last year. It's a wonderful city and the people of Toronto really embrace this event. You can see it in the drivers' enthusiasm. It's a very interesting street track. Very fast in certain places, which makes it really exciting to watch. I think the Hollywood team has regrouped after a weekend off that we needed very much. It was tough going for a while, but now we're ready to have great second part of the season. We started out very solid and then things started getting frustrating at Detroit. But, like I keep saying, 21 races is a long season and everybody has their share of ups and downs. Now it's time to move it on up."


** This weekend marks Zanardi's 60th career Champ Car start and his ninth 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 Cleveland, Zanardi had one of his most encouraging race days of the year, climbing from his 13th starting position as high as third at the race's midpoint. But then Zanardi had his left-rear tire flattened by the lapped car of Max Wilson, and the pit stop to replace the tire took him out of contention. He finished 13th.

** Like his teammate, Zanardi endured similar misfortunes at Detroit and Cleveland. He made early exits from those two events - out on Lap 4 at Detroit thanks to contact from behind from Michel Jourdain, and out on Lap 1 at Portland after an incident that involved Kanaan and Memo Gidley.

** Zanardi scored championship points in consecutive races at Japan's Twin Ring Motegi, where he was seventh, and at Milwaukee, where he was 11th.

** Two-time series champion Zanardi has never finished worse than second in three previous races here at Toronto. He was runner-up here in his Rookie of the Year season of 1996, and again in his first of back-to-back championship seasons in 1997. He then won here in 1998 enroute to his second consecutive championship. Zanardi qualified second here in the 1996 and 1998 events, sixth in 1997.

** In 21 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.


"I feel very encouraged this weekend after the race we had at Cleveland. I had a race car that I was very happy with. I think I never doubted that I could drive with the leaders in the race, and that is the way you want to feel every race.
Obviously, there were a lot of people pleased to see me back in the hunt, overtaking people and lapping consistently with the fastest guys out there. I don't have any doubt that if again we can bring the same kind of car to Toronto, I'll be able to challenge people for positions, and hopefully end up on the podium. The important thing is, we understand why our car was working better in Cleveland than it has probably all year. If that's the case, it means that we're really at a turning point in our season. We figured out a few things. In particular, the engineers (Morris Nunn, Jim Anderson and Adam Schaechter) did a great job giving me a good race car. At this point of my career, it takes one split second to have confidence in your race car, or to lose your confidence. I'm experienced enough to know that there is nothing magic in this business. When you have a good car, a car that is capable of winning a race, then you' re going to have a good day if you stay out of trouble. And if something happens to go wrong on the racetrack, a good car will allow you to overcome your setback much of the time. That's where our focus has to be right now. I think Tony and I are capable of winning races if we have the right car. We still have a lot of questions that we don't have an answer for, yet, but we're getting there."


** 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. They won here in Toronto in 1998 after finishing second in 1996 and 1997. Nunn also was technical director at Ganassi during the championship seasons of Jimmy Vasser (1996) and Juan Montoya (1999).

** 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.

"I'll be cautiously optimistic and say that we're getting to the bottom of our problems. We (Zanardi and I) have been successful in Toronto in the past . Tony wasn't there with us last year, but it's his type of track. So if we take the lessons we learned during the last three races, I think we can come out with a pretty good set of results in Toronto. It's really unfortunate what Alex and Tony have had to put up with the last few races. Some of it might have been prevented, but some of it was just plain bad luck. If you give the guys a good car, and their confidence is where it should be, then somehow luck can seem like it's in your favor. So our job is to take care of the things we have control over, to get our race cars up to speed from the very first practice session, and build on it from there. Toronto is a very low-grip track, so it will be a challenge. But it's the same for everybody. The weekend off was helpful. I think all of our guys are rested and refreshed and ready to go."


Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Memo Gidley , Tony Kanaan , Max Wilson , Bryan Herta , Morris Nunn , Jim Anderson , Michel Jourdain , Mo Nunn
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing