IRL: Fontana: AGR/Kanaan preview

Team 7-Eleven's Kanaan welcomes the challenge of another critical weekend at California Speedway INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 16, 2003) There are no easy weekends left for Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan and that is just fine with him. After ...

Team 7-Eleven's Kanaan welcomes the challenge of another critical weekend at California Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 16, 2003) There are no easy weekends left for Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan and that is just fine with him.

After leading the point standings following a series-high nine races, Kanaan is in a position to challenge for the 2003 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar? Series championship with just two events remaining.

Following a crash and DNF at Nazareth Speedway on Aug. 24, Kanaan needed a good result and a little bit of help at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 7 to better his chances of winning the title. A sixth-place finish coupled with a tough day for points leader Helio Castroneves gave Kanaan exactly what he needed and put him in a position to climb another step closer this weekend as the series moves to California Speedway.

Unlike Chicagoland a place where Kanaan had no previous race experience California Speedway is very familiar and very favorable to Kanaan. He's raced there since 1997, clinching an Indy Lights title in his California debut before going on to make five more Champ Car starts in the years that followed. He sat on the pole in his final Champ Car race there last season.

Kanaan will look for his second straight California Speedway pole on Saturday when qualifying gets underway at 2 p.m. (EDT). The 200-lap race is scheduled to go green just after 3:30 p.m. (EDT) Sunday, airing live on ABC.

TONY KANAAN, #11 TEAM 7-ELEVEN DALLARA/HONDA/FIRESTONE:

"I have a lot of good memories from racing at California. I won my Indy Lights championship there in ?97 and was on the pole there last year, so it brings me good vibes. What is going to happen there? We obviously don?t know. But, it's good to go to a place where you have had a lot of good memories from before. I'm looking forward to it. It's a very important race. The championship could be decided right there. You could get out of there with a chance to win the championship at Texas or you could leave there saying, That's it. We had a tough weekend at Chicago, but looking back the result was positive. It wasn't what we wanted, but we closed the gap and that was the plan. We're heading in the right direction. We're going to need a little bit of luck again at California and then see what we can do. I feel pretty good after our test. But, a test is a test. I don't want to head there with any expectations, but I'm happy with the car that I have. We always have good race cars. We just need to improve our qualifying and I think we're going to do that.

ON RACING FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP

"I've certainly competed for championships before, but this is the biggest championship I've ever competed for. This is the top. This is everything I've ever dreamed of. But, I truly don't feel any pressure. The more that you grow and the more that you race, you use the pressure as an advantage as a focus to go quicker. It's a positive. Pressure can be very negative. Under pressure, people sometimes make mistakes. I don't feel any pressure.

"It is not possible to describe how much I want this championship. There are no words. I really want it for myself and I really want it for Team 7-Eleven. There were two goals that I had for this year one was to win Indianapolis and the other was the championship. Indy is over, so this is my last shot this year. But, I just can't describe it.

KIM GREEN, PRESIDENT, ANDRETTI GREEN RACING:

"It certainly looks like this championship is going to go right down to the last race and I think the race itself in Fontana will be no different. I'd like to think we could go out there and have some little secret that would give us a dominating package, but this series is so competitive that I don't see that happening. In lieu of that, we've been working extremely hard to get ready for the last two races. I think we can compete on an equal basis with anybody. As long as we all do our jobs, and that is what it's going to take everybody on the team doing their best job all weekend it will give us a chance at it."

- AGR -

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan