IRL: Homestead: Andretti, Kanaan race report

Team 7-Eleven drivers Kanaan and Andretti 4th & 6th in debut race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. HOMESTEAD, Florida (March 2, 2003) -- Team 7-Eleven drivers Tony Kanaan and Michael Andretti finished today's season opening IndyCar...

Team 7-Eleven drivers Kanaan and Andretti 4th & 6th in debut race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

HOMESTEAD, Florida (March 2, 2003) -- Team 7-Eleven drivers Tony Kanaan and Michael Andretti finished today's season opening IndyCar Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in fourth and sixth place. Kanaan led a total of 35 laps while Andretti led 12. It was a satisfying start to the race season for Team 7-Eleven whose strong qualifying performance allowed Kanaan and Andretti to line up side by side on the front row for the start of the Indy 300.

Kanaan, who earned the MBNA pole award on Saturday, relinquished the lead on the start to teammate Andretti but came back to pace the field prior to his first pit stop. While the Brazilian, who drives the #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone ran in the top three through Lap 60, a decision to leave him out longer on his first set of tires along with a difficult second pit stop dropped him down as low as ninth.

For Michael Andretti, the race began on a positive note when he jumped past Kanaan to the front of the field on the green flag and led the first twelve laps. But he was overtaken by Helio Castroneves on Lap 14 and then found himself running in sixth after his last round of pit stops.

Team 7-Eleven's technical partner, Dario Franchitti driving the #27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola entry finished seventh after battling understeer through most of the day.

Scott Dixon claimed the victory and was followed by Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves. Dixon leads the IndyCar Series championship with 50 points. De Ferran is second with 42 points while Helio Castroneves is third with 35 points. Tony Kanaan is fourth with 32 points, Michael Andretti is sixth with 28 points and Franchitti is seventh with 26 points.

The Indy Racing League IndyCar Series now moves to Phoenix for Round 2, which will be held on March 23 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Tony Kanaan , Team 7-Eleven
"For my first race I don't think it's too bad a performance. Team 7-Eleven had great power and we tried to dial the car in throughout the race, but we didn't quite get there. We made a little mistake changing the wings but we went back and the car was great again. I think it was pretty good near the end, I was running sixth and finished fourth so I think we have everything to be proud of. "

Kim Green , President -- Andretti Green Racing
"Obviously with Team 7-Eleven starting on the front row we wanted to win the race. This is a very tough series. We may have left Tony out too long on his first set of tires, we lost a bit of lap time there, but we were trying to make a fuel window Nevertheless it was a good start to the season. Everybody did a great job all weekend. It's all about winning the championship. Finishing fourth, sixth and seventh, that's pretty good."

Michael Andretti , Team 7-Eleven
"We were looking for a better result, but we're not disappointed in Team 7-Eleven's performance today. Tony (Kanaan) seemed to be a tad bit better than Dario or I and at the end of the race he was right up there with the leaders. Physically the race wasn't too bad, I'm just a little disappointed that we didn't have a better set up. We were a little worried about our setup coming in, but to have three cars in the top-seven is a pretty good start to the season. We'll have to go back and do some work and get things ready for Phoenix."

Tony Cotman -- Team 7-Eleven Team Manager
"We can't be too disappointed with that finish, Team 7-Eleven had two cars in the top-six and Andretti Green Racing had three in the top-seven in our first time out. We obviously didn't hit the right set up, we weren't that great on long runs. We showed we're competitive by earning the front row starts and we're very proud of everyone. It was hard work getting to this first race and hopefully now we can go back to our base and just focus on getting ready for the next one."

AGR -

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Kim Green