Tony Kanaan and the ...
Tony Kanaan and the #17 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force took control of today's 86th Indianapolis 500 from the opening laps, but the 27-year-old Brazilian's bid to be the third consecutive rookie race winner here came to an end just 89 laps into the 200-lap event when he spun in another car's oil and made contact with the outside wall at Turn Three. The fastest rookie qualifier in the 33-car field, and the fastest car during final Carburetion Day practice on Thursday, Kanaan started fifth and gradually worked his way into the lead by Lap 64. He led twice for a total of 23 laps and was in the lead when the car of Bruno Junqueira had motor trouble and subsequently spewed oil onto the track at Turn Three. Kanaan spun in the oil when he arrived in Turn Three, hit the wall and damaged the car beyond repair. He was not hurt in the accident. Kanaan, who placed 27th, clocked the third-fastest lap of the race at 226.123 mph.
Meanwhile, Felipe Giaffone and the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force also made a valiant bid for the win today before settling for a third-place finish. Giaffone started fourth and also ran with the leaders throughout the day. He led four times for a total of 11 laps, the last three from Lap 174-176 before pitting a final time for a splash of fuel under yellow. He resumed in third place but chased down Paul Tracy for second place and was about to pass Helio Castroneves for the lead on Lap 197 when he was held up by the lapped car of Dario Franchitti, Tracy's teammate. Giaffone lost momentum at that point and Tracy regained second place. The race ended under caution after an accident involving Buddy Lazier and Laurent Redon on the very next lap, just a lap-and-a-half from the checkered flag. Castroneves went on to win for the second year in a row with Tracy second, just ahead of Giaffone.
Kanaan and his #10 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda return to the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series next weekend for Round Four, the Miller Lite 225 at Milwaukee.
"It was a real shame. I had a great, great car today after just awesome work all month long by my team. I feel really bad that it happened, and I feel really bad for the guys because they gave me the best car on the racetrack today. I was very comfortable from the very beginning and we made hardly any changes to the car all day. All I know is, I spun in somebody's oil and that was it. I guess that's the price you pay for being in first place ... you get to the oil slick first. But I had a blast. At least I can say I led the Indy 500 my very first time out. This is what racing is all about. The people here are great. I'm really thankful to Hollywood and WorldCom for giving me this opportunity. At least I leave here in one piece. Unfortunately, the car isn't."
"Well, considering this is our first Indy 500 as a team, I guess it's nice to leave here with a third-place finish. We definitely expected to run as strongly as we did, especially after the first week of practice here and our qualifying effort. It's a pity what happened to Tony. But that's racing. Everybody did such a great job and I'm sure Tony's feeling bad about what happened. But I hope someday soon this all becomes a positive memory for him. As for Felipe, he's disappointed, too, that he didn't get the win. But we got third place and we have to accept that graciously. After that first week of practice, we knew we would have competitive cars and that both drivers had a good chance to win the race. Hey, we're newcomers to the IRL and we had a strong showing. There were maybe a couple of question marks that we erased today, and I know a year from now we're going to be that much stronger and that much more confident here."