CHAMPCAR/CART: Milwaukee: Mo Nunn Racing preview

Tony Kanaan ...

Tony Kanaan

#10 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda

**Tony Kanaan is in his fifth CART FedEx Championship Series season and his third with Mo Nunn Racing. This weekend's Miller Lite 250 will be his 78th career Champ Car start. To date, Kanaan has one win (1999 U.S. 500), two poles (1999 at Long Beach, 2001 at Chicago), four podium finishes, 11 top-fives, and 38 top-10s.

**Kanaan took over Mo Nunn Racing's #10 Pioneer- and WorldCom-sponsored Honda-powered Reynard at this year's season opener March 10 at Monterrey, Mexico. He has yet to finish in this season's opening three events due to an accident at Monterrey, and due to mechanical failures at Long Beach, Calif. (April 14) and Japan's Twin Ring Motegi (April 27).

**For the first time in its two-plus seasons on the CART FedEx Championship Series, Mo Nunn Racing will take to the track with a Lola chassis. It competed with a Mercedes-Benz powered Reynard chassis during its inaugural season in 2000, and Honda-powered Reynards in 2001 and the first three events this season.

**Last 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 had another dominant car at the last CART event - on the Twin Ring Motegi 1.5-mile oval - late last month. He qualified second to Junqueira but took charge of the race on the very first lap. He led 72 of the first 121 laps of the 201-lap event before retiring the car with a mechanical failure.

**On the streets of Long Beach, Calif., in mid-April, Kanaan qualified sixth and was running fifth when a mechanical problem forced him out of the race just 17 laps into the 90-lap event. At the Monterrey season opener, he qualified 13th and was running ninth just eight laps into the race when he was forced to pit with electrical problems and lost two laps while the team replaced the electronic control unit ("black box"). He did not finish after an accident in the closing laps, his first DNF in 11 races dating back to the Michigan 500 in July, 2000.

**Last year here at Milwaukee, Kanaan qualified seventh and finished sixth for his fourth top-seven finish in the first five events of the 2001 season. He led eight laps and recorded the fourth-fastest lap of the race. In his Mo Nunn Racing debut here in 2000, Kanaan and the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz Reynard qualified 11th and finished 10th.

**In his first two CART seasons, Kanaan raced here twice with Tasman Motorsports (later to be called Forsythe Championship Racing), finishing 17th and 18th in the 1998 and 1999 seasons, respectively. He was the CART Rookie of the Year in 1998.

**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 a pole qualifying effort on the 1-mile oval at Chicago. He added top-five finishes at Vancouver (fourth), 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 35 career starts on oval circuits, Kanaan has one win (1999 U.S. 500 at Michigan), four top-fives, and 14 top-10s.

**Veteran race engineer Iain Watt joined Mo Nunn Racing this past offseason 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-Reynard) and the IRL (Felipe Giaffone driving the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force).

TONY KANAAN QUOTES

"Wow, what a month-and-a-half it's been. First, we had an unbelievable heartbreaker in Japan when I really thought we had the car to win the race, and ended up with our third DNF of the season, instead. I left there thinking somebody really owes us one. And I thought we would get our payback at Indy. It looked pretty good all month at the Speedway, especially on race day. But then my good friend Bruno (Junqueira) left me a little present in Turn 3, and that was another heartbreaking result for us. I'm only joking, Bruno! It wasn't your fault! The yellow didn't come out until it was too late to do anything about it. But that's racing, I guess. You know, nothing ever comes easily. We even decided to make life more difficult on ourselves in May by building new Lolas in time for Milwaukee. The guys were pretty busy taking care of business at the Speedway, and they worked overtime building my new Champ Cars. We got one of them finished and we'll be ready to give it a try at Milwaukee. That's going to be tough, switching from Reynard to Lola in the middle of the season. But we're confident we're doing the right thing. Paul Tracy ran a Lola for the first time at Motegi and he qualified up front and had one of the three fastest cars in the field, along with me and Bruno. And Bruno and his Lola won the race. So that says all you have to know about Lolas right now, I guess. Friday-morning practice will be interesting, that's for sure. Morris has a good feeling about this, so I'm going to trust the master!"

-mnr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing