CHAMPCAR/CART: Lexington: Mo Nunn Racing preview

Tony Kanaan ...

Tony Kanaan

#10 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Lola
CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio - August 9-11, 2002 - Pre-Race Notes/Quotes
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course - Lexington, Ohio - 2.258-Mile Road Course
Round 11 of 19 on the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series

** Tony Kanaan is in his fifth CART FedEx Championship Series season and his third with Mo Nunn Racing. This weekend's CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio will be his 85th career Champ Car start. To date, Kanaan has one win (1999 U.S. 500), two poles (1999 at Long Beach, 2001 at Chicago), five podium finishes, 12 top-fives, and 41 top-10s.

** Kanaan took over Mo Nunn Racing's #10 Pioneer- and WorldCom-sponsored CART entry this season after driving the third-year team's Hollywood-sponsored car in 2000 (Mercedes-Benz Reynard) and 2001 (Honda-powered Reynard).

** The team and Kanaan's latest podium finish came at the Molson Indy Vancouver two weekends ago, where the 27-year-old Brazilian started sixth, grabbed three spots by the very first turn of the race, and ran with the leaders the rest of the way. It was the team's second Champ Car podium and the fifth of Kanaan's career.

** Last August here at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Kanaan qualified seventh and finished fifth in the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard. It was his second top-five finish of the 2001 season.

** The third-place finish at Vancouver on July 28 was the team's top finish of the 2002 season. After a disappointing string of DNFs at the first four events of the season (Monterrey, Long Beach, Twin Ring Motegi and Milwaukee), Kanaan scored his first points of the season with a 12th-place finish at Laguna Seca. He followed that with eighth-place finishes at three of the next four races (Portland, Chicago and Cleveland) before the podium result at Vancouver.

** At the Milwaukee event the first weekend of June, Kanaan debuted a Lola chassis as the team made the switch from Reynard for the first time in its two-plus years of existence. He qualified eighth after running as high as third following Saturday-morning practice. In Sunday's race, Kanaan moved from eighth to fourth on the very first lap, and was running third when, on Lap 92, he was forced to retire from the 250-lap event with an oil leak.

** Kanaan's most promising performance this season came at Japan's Twin Ring Motegi, where he qualified second, led a race-high 72 laps, and recorded the fastest lap of the race before retiring with a mechanical failure on Lap 121of a scheduled 201 laps.

** On Memorial Day weekend, Kanaan competed in his first-ever Indianapolis 500, joining Mo Nunn Racing's full-time Indy Racing League driver Felipe Giaffone in a second Hollywood-sponsored team car. Kanaan qualified fifth in the #17 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force entry - the fastest rookie qualifier in the 33-car field - and dominated the early stages of the race, leading 23 laps in all before an ill-fated accident while running first on Lap 89. Kanaan spun in the oil of fellow CART regular Bruno Junqueira, who suffered a mechanical failure in Turn 3, and made heavy contact with the outside wall. Kanaan was unhurt, but saw a promising day come to an end. He clocked the third-fastest race lap. Giaffone, meanwhile, went on to finish third in the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force.

** Kanaan's previous best result at Mid-Ohio was eighth place enroute to the CART Rookie of the Year title in 1998 while with then-Hilliard, Ohio-based Tasman Motorsports Group (later to be called Forsythe Championship Racing). Kanaan won the 1997 Indy Lights series championship with Tasman.

** In 2001, Kanaan piloted the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard to ninth place in the driver points standings. He scored points in 14 of his 19 starts last season, including eight consecutive events from Toronto through Laguna Seca, and nine of the final 10 events of the year. Season highlights included a third-place finish at Twin Ring Motegi for the team's first and his fourth career podium, and the pole qualifying effort on the mile oval at Chicago. He added top-five finishes at Vancouver (fourth), here at Mid-Ohio (fifth) and the 500-mile season finale at Fontana (fifth). Kanaan had six top-five qualifying efforts on the year (the pole at Chicago, third at Long Beach, fourth at Motegi and Toronto, and fifth at Cleveland and Michigan). The Cleveland (fifth), Toronto (fourth), Michigan (fifth) and Chicago (pole) qualifying efforts came during consecutive events.

** In 17 career starts on permanent road courses, Kanaan has one podium, three top-fives, and eight top-10s.

** Veteran race engineer Iain Watt joined Mo Nunn Racing this season after working with Max Papis (1999), Cristiano da Matta (2000) and Dario Franchitti (2001) while at Cal Wells' Precision Preparation team (1999-2000) and Team Green (2001) the past three seasons. Thus, Kanaan is working with a new engineer for the first time since he first came to the U.S. to race in the Indy Lights series after the 1995 season. He worked with Eric Cowdin enroute to Indy Lights Rookie of the Year (1996) and the series championship (1997) honors while at Tasman Motorsports, moved up with Cowdin and Tasman to the Champ Car ranks and was CART Rookie of the Year in 1998, then moved to Mo Nunn Racing with Cowdin after the 1999 season. Cowdin is engineering the team's IRL entry this season. Don Lambert, who joined Mo Nunn Racing last season as chief mechanic with the Pioneer-WorldCom Honda-Reynard program, is Kanaan's new chief mechanic and is joined by a majority of the Pioneer-WorldCom crew from last season.

** Longtime race engineer Morris Nunn is in his third season as CART FedEx Championship Series team owner and his first in the Indy Racing League. He founded Mo Nunn Racing just prior to the 2000 CART season after leaving Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, where he was technical director during consecutive series championships by Jimmy Vasser (1996), Alex Zanardi (1997-98) and Juan Pablo Montoya (1999). Nunn also engineered Emerson Fittipaldi's 1989 Indianapolis 500 victory and CART championship while the two were with Patrick Racing.

** This year, Nunn's team is splitting its time between single-car entries in both CART (Tony Kanaan driving the #10 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Lola) and the IRL (Felipe Giaffone driving the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force). Giaffone is currently fourth in the IRL points standings behind Gil de Ferran, Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish, Jr. Giaffone and the IRL are competing this weekend just down the road at Kentucky Speedway.

** Nunn engineered Zanardi's back-to-back victories here at Mid-Ohio in 1996 and 1997, as well as Juan Pablo Montoya's 1999 win here, all while with Target/Chip Ganassi Racing.

TONY KANAAN QUOTES

"I almost hated to take the weekend off after we finally got our first podium of the season at Vancouver. After a result like that, you just want to get back into the race car and try to do even better. Actually, it was nice to take a short break. It was such an emotional weekend up in Vancouver in our good old friend Greg (Moore's) hometown. And sharing the podium with two of his best friends (Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy) was magic. I think we made some gains with our new Lola chassis during the weekend at Vancouver and it definitely is a step in the right direction as we go to the road courses at Mid-Ohio and Elkhart Lake. It's been such a struggle since we started racing the Pioneer-WorldCom Lola at Milwaukee that it was like a light bulb went off in somebody's brain at Vancouver and suddenly we seemed to start to get a handle on the car. I love Mid-Ohio. It used to be my home track when I raced with the Tasman team, so I know it about as well as any track we race on. It's going to be very competitive. Some teams tested there, so they might have an advantage when we start the weekend. We'll just have to build upon what we learned at Vancouver and hope for the best."

-mnr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , ART Grand Prix