CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterey: Mo Nunn Racing preview

Tony Kanaan ...

Tony Kanaan

#10 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Lola

**Tony Kanaan is in his fifth CART FedEx Championship Series season and his third with Mo Nunn Racing. This weekend's Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey will be his 79th 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 CART entry this season after driving the third-year team's Hollywood-sponsored car in 2000 (Mercedes-Benz Reynard) and 2001 (Honda-powered Reynard).

**At last weekend's Miller Lite 250 near Milwaukee, 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.

**In the season's first three events, Kanaan also recorded DNFs at Monterrey, Mexico (March 10, late-race accident after early race pit stop for a new electronic control unit cost two laps), Long Beach, Calif. (April 14, mechanical failure on Lap 17 of 90) and Japan's Twin Ring Motegi (April 27, mid-race mechanical failure). He qualified sixth and was running fifth at Long Beach when forced to retire. He qualified second and was leading his 72nd lap when forced to retire on Lap 121 at Motegi. The Monterrey DNF was his first in 11 races dating back to the Michigan 500 in July, 2000.

**Two weekends ago, 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.

**Last October here at Laguna Seca, Kanaan qualified sixth and finished eighth in a bizarre race during which he ran a fuel strategy consistent with the top qualifiers but saw back-of-the-pack qualifiers Max Papis and Memo Gidley finish 1-2. Last year's late-season Mo Nunn Racing teammate Casey Mears started 18th and finished 11th in only his second race with the team.

**In his first two CART seasons, Kanaan raced here twice with Tasman Motorsports (later to be called Forsythe Championship Racing), finishing third enroute to series Rookie of the Year honors in 1998, and qualifying second during his sophomore season of 1999.

**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 15 career starts on permanent road courses, Kanaan has one podium (third here at Laguna Seca in 1998), three top-fives, and seven 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-Lola) and the IRL (Felipe Giaffone driving the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force). Nunn won here at Laguna Seca from the pole with Zanardi in 1996.

**In addition to this weekend's Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey here at Laguna Seca, Mo Nunn Racing is also at Texas Motor Speedway campaigning Felipe Giaffone's #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force in the sixth of 15 Indy Racing League events scheduled for 2002.

TONY KANAAN QUOTES

"I'll have to say I never imagined we'd be in this position after the first four races of the season. This is the third year for Mo Nunn Racing, and my third year with the team, and we all thought three is going to be a charm. Well, four DNFs and just one point in the standings is definitely not charming. But, as everyone has seen, we definitely have been strong everywhere we have gone. Every weekend, so far, I thought I my Pioneer/WorldCom car had what it needed to win the race. My guys have done a great job since the first day we went testing in the offseason. Everybody at Mo Nunn Racing has worked so very hard. Everything happens for a reason, and the biggest lesson I think we are learning here is patience. Somehow, we have all managed to keep our cool through all this, to keep our heads down, and to work through it. We didn't exactly make life easy on ourselves when we changed from Reynard to Lola during the month of May. But everybody left Milwaukee feeling like it was definitely the right thing to do. The bottom line is, we have to start finishing races. We have to start another streak ... a good streak ... and start finishing, and start scoring points. Lots of points. Like we all know this team is capable of doing. This is a championship-caliber team. As I've said before, hopefully this start to the season will be a distant memory someday very soon."

-mnr-

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