LAKEside Tony Kanaan will be making his first appearance on the 4.048-mile, 11-turn course of Road America as the Champ Cars head to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for Round 14 of the FedEx Championship Series this weekend. Often compared to some of...
Tony Kanaan will be making his first appearance on the 4.048-mile, 11-turn course of Road America as the Champ Cars head to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for Round 14 of the FedEx Championship Series this weekend.
Often compared to some of the classic European road circuits, the Road America course tests both driver and equipment with its fast and slow corners and long straights.
"Road America looks like a really fun track to drive," said Kanaan. "It reminds me of Mugello in Italy with the elevation changes and long straights. We have had a good car on the road courses and I think we have a chance to do well this weekend."
Kanaan has posted six top-10 finishes to date this season and four of those have been on road courses. With his eighth-place finish in the Miller Lite 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last weekend, Kanaan has extended his lead in the Rookie of the Year standings to 13 points over former teammate Helio Castro-Neves.
A Little Advice
David Janquart, lead mechanic on the #21 LCI Reynard-Honda piloted by Kanaan, knows every bump and turn on the Road America circuit. Janquart grew up in Elkhart Lake and has been attending races there since the age of four when his parents worked as track volunteers. He has also competed at Road America in both karts and Formula Fords.
With more seat time on the challenging circuit than Kanaan, Janquart will be assuming an additional role this weekend as he takes Kanaan around the track on Thursday to help him become familiar with the course and learn its intricacies.
His advice for Kanaan:
"Don't go over the crown of the road at the Carousel because you'll never get back, and watch out for the bump at the apex of Turn 11."
The longest road course on the FedEx Championship Series schedule is also the fastest. Top speeds at Road America will reach around 202 mph, with cornering speeds dropping to 60 mph heading into Turn Five.
"With three long straights, the downforce levels we run at Road America are very similar to what we ran at Rio," said engineer Diane Holl. "The challenge is finding a balance between the straightaway speeds, i.e. drag, and the cornering speeds, i.e. downforce."
Traditionally, fuel strategy and tires are also key components to success at Road America.
Do You Copy?
Maintaining pit-to-car communication at Road America is another factor that each team must contend with this weekend.
"There is a black-out spot on the track where you can't maintain radio contact with the driver," explained Steve Horne, who communicates with Tony Kanaan on race day. "There are no problems with radio communications for roughly three-quarters of a lap, but if a yellow comes out and the driver is in the black-out spot, then it becomes a guessing game."
Following this weekend's race,Tony Kanaan will be making his first trip home to Brazil since the Rio 400 in May. Kanaan will be spending two weeks visiting with his mother and sister who live in Sao Paulo, and making sponsor and press appearances.
"I miss my mother and my sister so I am very excited to finally be able to go home and see my family," said Kanaan. "But, I also have a lot of work to do as well so it will be a very busy two weeks."
Kanaan will return to the States for an appearance at the offices of Qwest/LCI in Arlington, Virginia, on September 1 prior to heading to British Columbia, Canada for the Molson Indy Vancouver on September 6.
Qwest Communications and LCI International merged on June 5 of this year, creating the fourth-largest U.S. long distance company with over two million business and residential customers and the most advanced fiber optic network in the world.