IRL: Motegi: AGR Andretti, Kanaan Friday report

Kanaan 2nd and Andretti 7th in Motegi practice. Motegi, Japan (April 11, 2003) - Team 7-Eleven's Tony Kanaan once again led the Honda field in practice sessions for Sunday's Indy Japan 300, as the 28-year-old Brazilian aims for this third pole...

Kanaan 2nd and Andretti 7th in Motegi practice.

Motegi, Japan (April 11, 2003) - Team 7-Eleven's Tony Kanaan once again led the Honda field in practice sessions for Sunday's Indy Japan 300, as the 28-year-old Brazilian aims for this third pole in as many events this season. Kanaan's teammate, Michael Andretti, ran seventh today as the Team 7-Eleven owner/driver seeks his second open wheel victory at the 1.5-mile Japanese oval.

Kanaan qualified on the pole at both the season-opening race in Homestead, Florida, and at last month's round in Phoenix, Arizona to set a new IRL record. Weather permitting, he is in a strong position to extend that record and claim another $10,000 MBNA Pole Award bonus on Saturday.

Andretti was pleased for his teammate, but hoping for a slightly better result for himself in today's two practice sessions. The veteran driver will make his 314th, and penultimate, open wheel start this weekend. Team 7-Eleven's technical partner, Dan Wheldon, making his debut for the Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola entry substituting for an injured Dario Franchitti, was 12th on the combined time sheet.

This year's event marks the inaugural IRL IndyCar Series event at Motegi, following five years as a venue in the CART Champ Car series. With an increasing chance of rain forecast for Saturday, most of the 24 drivers and teams making the trek to Japan attempted to post the best possible speeds in the afternoon practice session.

Series officials will set the starting grid according to practice times if rain precludes qualifying.

Tony Kanaan , Team 7-Eleven
"Team 7-Eleven had a great effort today placing us second overall. We had some good runs out there and there was a lot of drafting going on. The car is in good shape but there is still some work to do. If it doesn't rain tomorrow there is room for improvement and if the rain comes, starting on the front row isn't bad either. We unloaded with a fast car and that just shows how good this team is. The engineers have done their homework, that's for sure."

Kim Green , President -- Andretti Green Racing
"This is a race track where you have to get through Turn 3 and 4 to be fast and we are working on various parts of the car to do that. We think we can get more out of the car so we are hoping the weather is going to hold out and we will have a chance to qualify tomorrow and get another pole position for Honda."

Michael Andretti , Team 7-Eleven
"We are sitting in seventh position and I was hoping for a little bit better. Tony [Kanaan] did a good job and he put his Team 7-Eleven car in the second spot, so that is good. We'll look at the data tonight and see where we can improve my car. There really isn't much difference between these cars and what I've driven here previously; the cars actually feel pretty much the same. With only two races remaining, I'm concentrating on doing my job and finishing at the front. But as we get closer to Indy it is starting to feel a little strange."

Tony Cotman -- Team 7-Eleven Team Manager
"We're pretty happy with our result but we could be better. We tried to get as fast a time as possible just it case it rains tomorrow and we have to start the race based on practice times. If it does rain we'll be happy to start seventh, and if we do get a chance to qualify I'm sure we'll improve the car. I'm really happy with the whole 7-Eleven team; we came here with a brand new race car after the accident in Phoenix and they did a great job getting it ready to race."

- AGR -

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Kim Green