INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 1, 2003) -- Fortunately, Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan keeps an open mind and loves to race, no matter where the schedule sends him. Any other approach and he'd be having a lot less fun than he's had so far in...
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 1, 2003) -- Fortunately, Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan keeps an open mind and loves to race, no matter where the schedule sends him. Any other approach and he'd be having a lot less fun than he's had so far in 2003.
Kanaan, who has been on top of the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar Series point standings since posting a third-place finish in the Indianapolis 500 on May 25, is three races into a five-race stretch that has him competing on tracks he's never raced at before. This Sunday's 300-miler at Kansas Speedway will be the fourth-such race and Kanaan is approaching it with the same enthusiasm that has helped him post top-five finishes in the three previous events and four-straight top-fives, overall.
"Kansas is an amazing racetrack. It's a beautiful place," said Kanaan, who wheels the #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. "I like it, but it's very narrow. It's probably the narrowest superspeedway we're going to be on, so it will probably be a little bit more challenging in terms of the line around there. It could be a bit tough.
"I don't think we'll be side-by-side a lot, so you're going to need to have your car well set up for that and then wait on traffic. Obviously, horsepower is going to be important there, and fortunately we have that from Honda, so we'll see what is going to happen."
Kanaan currently holds a 27-point lead in the series standings over Scott Dixon with nine races left. The 28-year old Brazilian used a fifth-place finish Saturday night at Richmond to increase his season top-five total to a league-leading six in seven races.
"I think we have some bright days ahead of us," said Kanaan. "I think we tested pretty good at the tracks we will go to in the next few weeks."
Andretti Green Racing president Kim Green admits there is a steep learning curve for his team to tackle when competing at all the unfamiliar venues they're facing, but also finds the challenge rewarding.
"We're learning every time we go on the racetrack -- no matter where we're at or what the configuration is," said Green. "The engineering staff and the whole race team is working very, very hard on developing setups and improving our cars for whatever condition we're facing. The challenge for us going forward in trying to maintain our lead in the championship is to try to produce really strong race cars on race day every week."
Qualifying for Sunday's 200-lap event -- Round 8 on the 2003 IndyCar Series schedule -- takes place at 12 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday with the race slated to go green at 1 p.m. (EDT) Sunday, airing live on ABC.
- AGR -