CHAMPCAR/CART: Miami: Mo Nunn Racing race report

Polesitter Kanaan salvages 9th at Miami after early penalty. MIAMI, Fla. (Sunday, Oct. 6, 2002) -- Polesitter Tony Kanaan and the ...

Polesitter Kanaan salvages 9th at Miami after early penalty.

MIAMI, Fla. (Sunday, Oct. 6, 2002) -- Polesitter Tony Kanaan and the #10 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Lola overcame a severe early-race blocking penalty to salvage ninth place in today's inaugural Grand Prix Americas on the downtown streets of Miami's Bayfront Park. Kanaan led fellow front-row starter Scott Dixon for the first 19 laps of the 105-lap race when the two made contact entering Turn 1 of this tight, 1.379-mile, 16-turn temporary circuit. Both slid into the Turn 1 runoff. Kanaan was able to continue, Dixon was not. During the subsequent caution period, CART officials ruled that Kanaan committed a blocking violation and moved him to the back of the field. The race went back to green on Lap 25 with Kanaan in 13th place. He got as high as seventh in the closing laps, but fell back to ninth when contact with Michael Andretti on Lap 105 left both cars stuck on course against the Turn 6 wall.

Earlier, on Lap 93, Kanaan was forced into the Turn 1 runoff by Bruno Junqueira, costing Kanaan a lap and dropping him from eighth to 10th. Five laps later, Kanaan had to stop on-track to avoid a multi-car pileup that temporarily blocked Turn 1. But he was able to resume in eighth place. Kanaan picked up one spot, moving him to seventh, on a Lap 101 restart, before the incident with Andretti four laps later.

Cristiano da Matta won the race and clinched the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series championship with three events remaining. His teammate Christian Fittipaldi finished second, with Jimmy Vasser taking third.

The next event on the schedule is the Honda Indy 300, Oct. 25-27, on the beachside streets of Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia. It will be Round 17 of 19 on the 2002 CART schedule.

TONY KANAAN

"Well, that was a really bitter pill to swallow. It was really unfortunate that CART decided to penalize me for that incident with Scott (Dixon) because that took away every chance in the world that we had to win the race. As far as I'm concerned, I don't agree with the call. I am allowed to make one move to protect my position. Scott got inside of me trying to go for the lead and we both touched as we were coming to the corner. He was out of the race and I was able to continue. It was a racing incident, as far as I am concerned, but who am I to judge? I'm just a driver and I'm paid to do my job. You're damned if you're aggressive, and you're damned if you're not. I feel bad for both of us because neither of us was able to finish the race. You put these kinds of cars on a course that is so extremely tight like this one and there is going to be contact. So you really need to give us a little bit of a break, otherwise we have no business racing on a track like this. But it's over. I accepted the penalty and the rest of our day was hell after that. I'm really disappointed at what happened. If the officials who made the call can put their heads on their pillow tonight and feel like they did the right thing, then so be it. Let's go to Australia."

-mnr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Christian Fittipaldi , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Cristiano da Matta , Mo Nunn