CHAMPCAR/CART: Milwaukee pre-race notes and quotes

MO NUNN RACING Miller Lite 225 - June 1-3, 2001 The Milwaukee Mile - Milwaukee, Wis. - 1-Mile Oval TONY KANAAN -- ...

Miller Lite 225 - June 1-3, 2001
The Milwaukee Mile - Milwaukee, Wis. - 1-Mile Oval


**This weekend marks Kanaan's 60th career Champ Car start and his 21st with Mo Nunn Racing. In his Champ Car career, he has one win (1999 U.S. 500), one pole (1999 Long Beach Grand Prix), four podium finishes, eight top-fives, and 29 top-10s.

**Two weekends ago, at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, Kanaan posted the first podium finish for second-year Mo Nunn Racing, placing third behind first-time winner Kenny Brack and polesitter and runner-up Helio Castroneves. Kanaan led 40 laps, and saw his bid for victory end only when he came in for a splash of fuel just 14 laps from the finish. That final pit stop came just before a late-race caution period that allowed Brack and Castroneves to go the distance without requiring a splash of fuel themselves.

**Kanaan has led 104 laps in his last two races, including 64 on the 1-mile oval at Nazareth, Pa., early last month. There, he qualified 10th and had to settle for 16th place when pit strategy didn't work out in his favor. He did come away with the fastest lap of the race.

**Kanaan's third-place finish at Motegi lifted his season points total to 26, seven points more in four races this season than he scored all of last season. He is currently seventh in the CART driver points standings. He also shows some impressive numbers on the CART Driver Performance Chart, logging the third-most laps (584), miles completed (846.992) and laps led (104) among all competitors. He trails only Helio Castroneves and Jimmy Vasser in the first two categories, and points leader Kenny Brack and Castroneves in the laps led category.

**Last year here at The Milwaukee Mile, Kanaan qualified 11th in his #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz Reynard and finished 10th, his third top-10 finish in his first six starts for he and his brand new team. In his first two appearances here, Kanaan qualified 26th and finished 17th in his CART Rookie of the Year season of 1998 for Tasman Motorsports Group. He qualified 20th and finished 18th in 1999 for Forsythe Championship Group.

**In 28 career starts on oval circuits, Kanaan has one win (1999 U.S. 500 at Michigan), three top-fives, and 10 top-10s.

**Kanaan finished seventh in the season's first two events at Monterrey, Mexico, and Long Beach, Calif. He started 12th at Monterrey and third at Long Beach.


"Definitely, it's great momentum that we have going right now. I'm really looking forward to going to Milwaukee. I was ready to get back in the race car the day after Japan! Milwaukee might be difficult for all of us Reynard teams, as it was at Nazareth. I'm concerned because I did not have the greatest race car in the world at Nazareth. I had a decent car, but up against the Lolas, it was not a great car. So right now we're working on the setup. Reynard came up with some more new stuff for us to try at Nazareth. We can't say what it is, but hopefully it will help us in the downforce department. I'm pretty happy about being on the podium at Motegi. It wasn't the spot where I ultimately wanted to be, but third place is a good start and we have to keep that in perspective. It's a sign of how things are going this season that after the fifth race we have more points than all of last year. I'm excited. It's a lot of work to do."


**This weekend marks Zanardi's 56th career Champ Car start and his fifth 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, 34 top-fives, and 38 top-10s.

**Two weekends ago at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, Zanardi earned his first championship points for his new team with a seventh-place finish. He also recorded the fastest lap of the race and was in contention for a podium finish before running out of fuel some 15 laps from the finish, which required a lengthier than normal pit stop to enable the crew to help refire his engine.

**In three previous Champ Car events at The Milwaukee Mile, Zanardi recorded a best finish of eighth in his second of back-to-back series championship seasons with Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, where current team owner Morris Nunn was technical director.

**In 25 starts on oval circuits, Zanardi has two career wins (1997 U.S. 500 at Michigan, 1998 at Gateway), seven podium finishes, 10 top-fives, and 13 top-10s. His qualifying record on ovals includes poles at Homestead in 1997 and Rio de Janeiro in 1996.

**Earlier last month at Nazareth, Pa., Zanardi had a rough outing in his #66 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard. He qualified 21st and saw his efforts to move up in the order go away when his car developed handling problems. He retired 49 laps from the finish with gearbox problems.

**At the Long Beach Grand Prix April 8, his second start for the Mo Nunn team, Zanardi qualified 20th and placed 26th after retiring just over one-third into the race with overheating problems resulting from earlier contact with the car of Bruno Junqueira.

**In his Mo Nunn Racing debut March 11 at Monterrey, Mexico (his first Champ Car start in 29months, Zanardi qualified 22nd and placed 24th. Contact with lapped traffic while working his way into the top 10 led to broken suspension pieces that put him out of the race on Lap 40 of 78 laps completed that day.

**Zanardi has been traveling to and from races so far this season from his home in Monte Carlo. After this weekend in Milwaukee, however, Zanardi will temporarily move his family (wife Daniela and son Niccolo) to the Indianapolis area through the August events on the schedule.


"I think it was unfortunate what happened in Motegi, but certainly the level of our performance has been very encouraging for all of our crew, and certainly for myself. I believe that the fact that we did no winter testing on ovals was not a help to us the first few outings. But now we definitely over that. In the races we've done we have learned a lot of things. I'm really pumped going into Milwaukee. Looking forward to a good result there. I desperately need one. I want to think positive. I want to believe we will get what we want."


**Team owner Morris Nunn, technical director for four CART FedEx Championship Series champions (1996-99) while at Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, scored his first podium finish as team owner two weekends ago when Tony Kanaan brought home the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard in third place. Kanaan's teammate Alex Zanardi, in the #66 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard, earned his best finish of the young season, as well, a seventh-place effort. Zanardi won two of those championships with Nunn (1997 and 1998), with Jimmy Vasser (1996) and Juan Montoya (1999) earning the others.

**Last year, Nunn guided Kanaan to a 10th-place finish after qualifying 11th in the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz Reynard. It was Kanaan's third top-10 finish in the first six races of 2000.


"This should be a very interesting weekend for all of the Reynard teams. There are some aerodynamic updates for the Reynard cars, so it'll get us a little bit closer to the Lolas, which I expect will be very good again as they were at Nazareth. But, you never know. Downforce-wise, I think the Lolas are still ahead. But this track's a little bumpier, so suspension geometry will come into play a bit more. With the good qualifying we did last week (Kanaan fourth, Zanardi eighth), we're actually moving further up the grid. We get the second team spot on pit row this weekend. I expect we' ll be competitive. If we get our pit stops right, our fuel strategy right, we should be okay. We got our first podium at Motegi. At first, when we were running up front, I was hopeful for our first win. Then when we didn't win, I had to remind myself to get excited about our first podium. Actually, it was a great moment. Tony has great, great confidence right now. He feels he should win every weekend. And Alex is more pleased with the way his weekend went. He seems to be back to how he used to be, thinking more positively. Other than our error that we didn't get his car full of fuel on the third stop, he had a great weekend, all things considered. He made fastest lap of the race by quite a bit. I'm sure he's anxious to get back into the race car this weekend."


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Alex Zanardi , Kenny Brack , Morris Nunn , Chip Ganassi , Mo Nunn
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing