Kanaan, Team 7-Eleven Clinch IRL IndyCar Series Championship FONTANA, Calif. (Oct. 3, 2004) - In clinching the 2004 Indy Racing LeagueÂ® IndyCarÂ® Series championship with his second-place finish Sunday at the California Indy 400, Team 7-Eleven...
Kanaan, Team 7-Eleven Clinch IRL IndyCar Series Championship
FONTANA, Calif. (Oct. 3, 2004) - In clinching the 2004 Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series championship with his second-place finish Sunday at the California Indy 400, Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan added an exclamation point to what has already been a truly remarkable season.
The championship is the first IndyCar Series title for Kanaan and for Andretti Green Racing, both of whom joined the Series as full-time competitors prior to the 2003 campaign. Kanaan's championship drive has included three wins, 14 top fives, 15 top 10s and 884 laps led.
Tony Kanaan (2004 IRL IndyCar® Series Champion):
"I'm so excited for the team. I did some doughnuts over (in Turn 2) for (late driver) Greg Moore. He's still in my heart. So is my dad who couldn't be here, but it's a happy day, not a sad day. I have great teammates and great sponsors, 7-Eleven and Honda. It's a dream come true. Now I can relax a little bit."
Michael Andretti, Chief Executive Office, Andretti Green Racing:
"Today was just a dream day. It was a little tough over the weekend because we didn't qualify very well and the guys weren't real happy with the #11 Team 7-Eleven car until the end yesterday. But they kept working and got a little more comfortable with things. Then, the race started and Tony pretty much showed that he had a fast car right away. The only letdown was that I asked him to go out and get a win and he didn't get that, but we'll let that go. Tony drove like a champion from the first race of the season and proved that he is a champion this year. Dan (Wheldon) came a real long way this season and is going to be really, really tough to beat next year. I'm really proud of the job Dan has done. Now the team needs to focus on securing second place in the championship for Dan when we go to Texas."
Kim Green, President, Andretti Green Racing:
"I'm speechless, really. It just comes down to an incredible amount of hard work. Everybody that works on this team is important, but no one more important than the other. From the people back at the race shop to the people in hospitality, from all of our sponsors, an incredible engine manufacturer (Honda) - this one is a credit to everybody. This is just absolutely outstanding. It really hasn't sunk in, yet. I certainly refuse to discuss with anybody how to celebrate a championship until we've done it and that's a good problem to have. We've come and done the job that we had to get done. I can't be prouder of all the people that work with us."
Kevin Savoree, Chief Operating Office, Vice President Finance, Andretti Green Racing:
"I'm so proud of our team. It was about two years ago right now in Denver that we signed Tony and it obviously paid some big dividends pretty quick. It's been a magic couple of years. Tony was knocking on the door last year. To finish it off this year is so special. There are 100 people at Andretti Green Racing that made this happen - not just owners or drivers or whatever. I'm just so proud of what we've put together in such a short time.
"One of our biggest partners is Honda and the job they have done working with us is incredible. And 7-Eleven - it was about two years ago here that Tony met one of the executives at 7-Eleven and 7-Eleven said, 'OK, we'll give him a go.' That turned out to be a pretty good decision."
IRL IndyCar Series records set by Kanaan during 2004
* He has led 884 laps, an IndyCar Series single-season mark.
* The 578 points amassed by Kanaan in 2004 marks the highest single-season total ever recorded by an IndyCar Series driver.
* Kanaan has recorded an IndyCar Series record 14 consecutive top-five finishes, which sets two new marks - one for most consecutive top fives and one for most top fives in a season.
Kanaan Superlatives in 2004:
* He has completed all 3,105 race laps run this season, making him the only IndyCar Series driver to have completed every lap.
* Kanaan is riding a string of 14 consecutive top-five finishes.
* Kanaan's 884 laps led this season are more than twice that of the next-highest lap leader. Teammates Dan Wheldon (419) and Dario Franchitti (347) rank second and third, respectively.
* Kanaan ranks third among IndyCar Series career lap leaders, having led 1,225 race laps.
* Kanaan has posted three IndyCar Series wins this season (Phoenix, Texas and Nashville) and two IndyCar Series poles (Michigan and Pikes Peak).