CHAMPCAR/CART: Kanaanm, Zanardi Road America preview

Mo Nunn Racing Motorola 220 - Aug. 17-19, 2001 Road America - Elkhart Lake, Wis. - 4.048-Mile Road Course Round 14 of 21 on the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series TONY KANAAN -- ...

Mo Nunn Racing Motorola 220 - Aug. 17-19, 2001
Road America - Elkhart Lake, Wis. - 4.048-Mile Road Course
Round 14 of 21 on the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series


**This weekend marks Kanaan's 67th career Champ Car start and his 28th with Mo Nunn Racing. In his Champ Car career, he has one win (1999 U.S. 500), two poles (1999 at Long Beach, 2001 at Chicago), four podium finishes, nine top-fives, and 33 top-10s.

**Kanaan moved to 11th in the CART FedEx Championship Series driver point standings with 52 after finishing fifth last weekend at Mid-Ohio. He qualified seventh, ending a four-race streak of top-five qualifying efforts. Nonetheless, his average starting position in the last five races is 4.5, and his versatility is evident as those five races took place on a variety of circuits, from temporary street courses (Cleveland 5th, Toronto 4th), a superspeedway (Michigan 5th), a mile oval (Chicago 1st), and a permanent road course (Mid-Ohio 7th).

**Last year here at Road America, Kanaan qualified 17th in his #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz Reynard and worked his way up to sixth position in the closing laps before developing an intermittent misfire. He had to settle for an eighth-place finish, equaling his season best at the time. In his two pervious visits here, Kanaan qualified 10th and finished sixth with Forsythe Championship Racing in 1999, and he qualified 12th and finished fourth enroute to the Rookie of the Year title in 1998 with Tasman Motorsports Group.

**In 13 career starts on permanent road courses, Kanaan has one podium (third at Laguna Seca in 1998), three top-fives, and seven top-10s.


"We're climbing back into the top 10 (in the points) after some strong weekends. This is the time of year when championships are won. So it feels good that we're consistently putting a competitive race car on the track. Since Portland, which was a disaster of a weekend for us, we proved our mental toughness by not hanging our heads and instead going to work even harder. It's been paying off. We worked our way back into the fast (qualifying) group with our fifth place at Mid-Ohio. We had a pretty decent weekend at Elkhart Lake last year. Hopefully, we'll stay headed in the positive direction that we have been heading in and keep putting up good results. I'm proud of the guys. They make me feel like I can't wait to get back into the race car for each session on the track."


**This weekend marks Zanardi's 64th career Champ Car start and his 13th 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 40 top-10s.

**Last weekend at Mid-Ohio, Zanardi qualified 20th but worked his way into the top eight with seven laps to go before being black-flagged for allegedly passing the car of Christian Fittipaldi an instant before to a Lap 76 restart.

**Zanardi has never finished off the podium here at Road America. He was second in 1998 while driving for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing under the technical direction of his current team owner, Morris Nunn, enroute to a second consecutive series championships. Zanardi won here in 1997, and he finished third here during his series Rookie of the Year season of 1996.

**In 14 career starts on permanent road courses, Zanardi has six wins, 10 podium finishes, four poles and seven front-row qualifying spots.

**Zanardi and his family (wife Daniela, and son Niccolo, 3), will head back to their residence in Monaco Sunday night after spending the last 11 weeks commuting to and from races from a rented home in Indianapolis. As he did during the first part of the season, Zanardi will travel to and from Monte Carlo for the remainder of the 2001 schedule.


"Well, as for last weekend, I think I drove a good race, so from that standpoint I left Mid-Ohio feeling pretty good about things. But it was very disappointing how it ended. I looked at the (alleged passing under yellow as the race was going green on Lap 76 at Mid-Ohio) incident over and over in the CART trailer at the end of the race. It wasn't obvious from the TV angle. But the CART officials said they got three different (corner worker) calls on the radio that it happen, so we have to live by that. They said they never get three different calls on the radio, so there had to be something there. You have to respect what the sanctioning body decides because, otherwise, it would be a jungle out there. I was sure I didn't pass Christian (Fittipaldi, under yellow), and after I saw the black flag, I let Christian go by hoping that the black flag would go away. When I saw that it wasn't going away, I had one more lap to go to the end, so I just kept going and hoped that we could somehow fix the problem after the race. But they didn't give me my points back, so we go on to Elkhart Lake. Road America is one track that I like a whole lot. We continue to be able to get a good car on race day, like we did at Mid-Ohio. And Road America is a track where there are plenty of places to pass. A lot better, in that respect, than Mid-Ohio. There are things you learn, setup-wise, at Mid-Ohio that always carry over to Road America. So I hope we can take that a step further at Road America so race day will be enjoyable."


**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, as well as the series Rookie of the Year title in 1996. Nunn engineered Zanardi's victory here at Road America in 1997, his runner-up finish in 1998, and his third-place finish from the pole in 1996.

**Nunn scored his first pole position as a team owner with Tony Kanaan and the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard last month at Chicago. He also scored his first podium finish as team owner in May when Kanaan brought home the #55 car in third place at Japan's Twin Ring Motegi.


"It's a good-news/not-so-good-news story for us right now. The good news is that Tony's side of the team is confident and ready to go any given time we take to the track. They're looking solid. Tony has a lot of confidence right now, which spills over to everyone on his team. It's not just a matter of running to stay out of trouble and finish races, they're starting to develop a winning work ethic. On the Pioneer-WorldCom side, it seems like one silly thing or another is tripping us up at the track. At Chicago, it was lapped traffic. At Mid-Ohio, it was a judgement call by the corner workers that we have to respect and live with. They key is to not put ourselves in a position to be snake-bit by those silly situations. The good thing is, Alex is also getting more and more confident as the weeks go by. He hasn't had the best car in qualifying, but he certainly knows how to make the most of it on race day. He had a good car on race day at Mid-Ohio and he drove a good race. What happened at the end there, we just have to get over it and move on. We should be competitive at Road America. It's a fast track, one that suits perfectly the driving styles of both Tony and Alex. We built a good foundation at Mid-Ohio where we just have to take it one step further from there this weekend."


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