IRL: Motegi: AGR, Andretti, Kanaan preview

Team 7-Eleven heads to Japan. INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (April 8, 2003) -- With the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series points lead firmly in hand, Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan, along with teammate Michael Andretti head to Japan to contend Round 3...

Team 7-Eleven heads to Japan.

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (April 8, 2003) -- With the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series points lead firmly in hand, Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan, along with teammate Michael Andretti head to Japan to contend Round 3 of the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar Series at Twin Ring Motegi. While this weekend's Japan Indy 300 in the Far East is a first for the IRL, both Andretti and Kanaan have previous experience racing with CART at the facility. Andretti was victorious at Twin Ring Motegi in 2000 while Kanaan earned a third place podium finish in 2001.

"It would be great to be the driver to give Honda its first win on their home track," said Team 7-Eleven driver and Andretti Green Racing co-owner Michael Andretti. "I'm looking forward to going back to Japan. Motegi is a great facility and the Japanese are extremely knowledgeable about their racing. I think Andretti Green Racing and particularly Team 7-Eleven are carrying a lot of momentum into this race, coming off the win at Phoenix and all. It's been a great start to the season for us and we're very proud of the work we've done so far. I think everyone should be commended for all that they've done to put us at the top of the standings, now we've got to do the work to stay there."

This weekend's race at Twin Ring Motegi is the penultimate event for Andretti who will retire from competition following the Indianapolis 500 on May 25.

"It's getting close now," admits Andretti who is currently ninth in the drivers standings. "I'm very excited about the Indy 500 but I need to remain focused on the task at hand which is earning more points for Team 7-Eleven. I'd like to earn a victory here in Japan, but I'll be just as happy if Tony Kanaan does it again."

A native Brazilian, Kanaan, who won Round 2 in Phoenix, currently leads the IndyCar Series standings with 84 points, nine more than fellow countryman Helio Castroneves.

I'm still feeling very good about the win at Phoenix and I hope that we can repeat it for Team 7-Eleven in Japan, says Kanaan. " I really like the Motegi facility, it's such an amazing place to race. I'm so happy with the way this season is starting, I know that it's much too early to start thinking about championships, but I feel like I am so well supported by everyone at Andretti Green Racing. It's been a great experience so far and the best way I can think of to thank Michael (Andretti) and everyone at the team for the chance to race with them is to win more races. That's what I'm focused on right now. "

Andretti Green Racing co-owner Kim Green is also pleased with the team's performance to date.

"Everyone has done an excellent job so far," Green said. "But we can't rest on our laurels and expect to win them all. We've got to continue to do what we do best and that is to work hard. We saw at Phoenix how our hard work paid off. But now were back at square one. We're heading to Japan with a brand new package; we've got to see how this Dallara/Honda/Firestone combination works on this track. If we can get a handle on things early in the weekend we can reasonably expect that we will be competitive and have as good a chance as any to win this race. We're off to a good start."

- AGR -

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Tony Kanaan , Kim Green