CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach Tony Kanaan qualifying notes and quotes

Tony Kanaan and the ...

Tony Kanaan and the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard will start Sunday’s Grand Prix of Long Beach from the inside of the second row after a wet and wild qualifying session today. Kanaan’s best time was set on his last lap of a 30-minute session that started in wet conditions but finished in the dry. It was a 1-minute, 9.223-second effort (an average of 102.347 mph) over the 1.968 temporary street course overlooking Long Beach Harbor. That put him just behind polesitter Helio Castroneves and Kenny Brack, and equaled his best qualifying effort for second-year Mo Nunn Racing. (He qualified third on the 1-mile oval at Chicago last season.) Kanaan was on the pole here two years ago and led 44 of the first 46 laps before an accident ended his day. Castroneves’ fast time of 1:08.556 (103.343 mph) secured his fifth career pole, while Brack came in at 1:09.097 (102.534 mph) to take the outside-front-row starting position. Cristiano da Matta will start outside Kanaan on the second row with a qualifying time of 1:09.312 (102.216 mph).

Kanaan’s teammate Alex Zanardi and the #66 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard, qualifying in the first of today’s two 30-minute sessions, ended up 20th on the starting grid after rain and three separate red-flag incidents disrupted his efforts. Zanardi’s fast lap of 1:10.675 (100.245 mph) put him on the outside of the 10th row.

Today’s qualifying will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis by ESPN2 beginning at 2 a.m. EDT. Race time Sunday is 1 p.m. local time (4 p.m. EDT) and it will be aired live by ABC-TV. The CART2DAY preview show will air at 11 a.m. EDT on ESPN2.

TONY KANAAN

“That must have been incredibly fun to watch, but it was really tough out there today. At the beginning of our session, I made the decision to change my car to a wet setup because it looked like it would be a wet session. But the rain stopped by the time we were halfway through, and it was too late to change the car all the way back. We made some little changes, but that wasn’t enough. So I had to deal with understeer and I just grit my teeth and did the best I could. The track was getting better every lap as it was drying out. I got my best lap on my last lap. I guess I’m happy with third. It’s not the pole, but it’s a good position to be in for the start of the race. I don’t know what it is about this place, but Long Beach has been pretty good to me, at least as far as qualifying goes. I think the Honda engine has a real advantage here. The track is changed, slightly, from when I was on the pole here two years ago and crashed. They were kind enough to take out the turn where I crashed. It will be very tough to pass here tomorrow, so it will be important to stay out of trouble and use good strategy. The cars that do that will be in great shape because there are always a lot of crashes here. We’ll be ready.”

- Mo Nunn Racing

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Alex Zanardi , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Cristiano da Matta , Mo Nunn