Brazilian Tony Kanaan and his ...
Brazilian Tony Kanaan and his #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz Reynard had the 15th-fastest practice time this afternoon in preparation for Sunday's Rio 400. He recorded a fast lap of 39.745 seconds (an average of 168.836 mph) over the 1.8-mile Nelson Piquet International Raceway oval. Defending series champion Juan Montoya was fastest on the day at 38.922 seconds (172.406 mph). Practice resumes Saturday morning with qualifying set for 1 p.m. local time (12 noon EDT). Sunday's race begins at 1:30 p.m. local time (12:30 p.m. EDT) with a live broadcast set for ESPN.
"I think it was a very busy session to try and make progress. There were many yellows. And early in the session, I cut a tire and that cost us some more time. We tried the low downforce setup early in the session, but then I cut a tire and that cost us some valuable time. I have a very good car in the corners. We just need to find more speed down the straights. So we'll have to take more downforce out of the car and try to find more mechanical grip to get us through the corners. Overall, right now, I'm confident we have a car that will finish in the top 10 or top 12. That's the way it looks like it's going to be right now."
Kanaan Makes the Most of His Time Since Arriving in Brazil Late Last Week
Kanaan, who was born in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, but grew up in Sao Paolo, arrived from his Miami home last Friday -- earlier than usual for a typical race weekend -- and has been plenty busy ever since.
Reunited With His Golden Retriever, 'Duke'
First, Kanaan was glad to arrive at the Sao Paolo home of his girlfriend Juana's family, where his golden retriever Duke has been staying since he shipped the canine companion out from Miami late last year. "I moved out of my house in Miami and into a bayside condo, so Duke needed to go where he had some room to run around. It was a difficult decision, but he's happy in Sao Paolo. It was good to see him again."
Mountain Biking With Cristiano da Matta; A Visit With the Brazilian President
Over the weekend, Kanaan and his close friend, fellow Brazilian driver Cristiano da Matta, took a mountain biking excursion near da Matta's hometown of Belo Horizonte, north of Sao Paolo. Then, upon his return, he flew to the capitol city of Brazilia to visit with Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. He presented Cardoso with one of his racing helmets, and, more importantly, asked the President to waive a 15% tax levied upon all money spent outside the country by domestic businesses. "He said he would do everything he could to waive the tax," Kanaan said. "It's for the benefit of all of us who race for teams outside the country who are sponsored by Brazilian companies, like our sponsor, Hollywood. He wished us well, and he told us how proud he was that we are out there representing Brazil. He's a very nice guy."