IRL: Motegi: AGR Andretti, Kanaan Saturday report

Kanaan and Andretti to start 2nd and 10th at Motegi. MOTEGI, Japan (April 11, 2003) - Team 7-Eleven's Tony Kanaan will start Sunday's Indy Japan 300 from the outside of the front row as rain washed out qualifying and IRL IndyCar Series officials...

Kanaan and Andretti to start 2nd and 10th at Motegi.

MOTEGI, Japan (April 11, 2003) - Team 7-Eleven's Tony Kanaan will start Sunday's Indy Japan 300 from the outside of the front row as rain washed out qualifying and IRL IndyCar Series officials set the 24-car starting field based on combined practice session times. Kanaan's teammate, Michael Andretti, will start 10th as he seeks his second Motegi race victory.

Kanaan was quickest in Saturday's morning practice, but that effort fell just shy of Scott Dixon's top time from Friday, the first time in the three race old season that the Andretti Green Racing driver has not started from the point. The 28-year-old Brazilian started from the pole at both the season-opening race in Homestead, Florida and at last month's round in Phoenix, Arizona.

Team 7-Eleven's technical partner, Dan Wheldon, made one of the biggest jumps up the time sheet, improving from 12th to fifth as he makes his first IRL race appearance for the Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola team. He is substituting for Dario Franchitti, who was sidelined by a back injury following a motorcycle accident last week.

This year's event marks the inaugural IRL IndyCar Series event at Motegi, which spent five years as a venue for CART Champ Cars. The weather forecast for Sunday's 300- mile race calls for partly cloudy skies and mild temperatures.

Tony Kanaan , Team 7-Eleven
"Scott [Dixon] and I have been hooked up all weekend so it would have been a good fight in qualifying for the pole. It is a shame that we didn't get to qualify because I really think Team 7-Eleven could have been on the pole again. If you look at the last two races, my practice times weren't as good as they were this weekend. This is the third front row in a row for us which isn't bad but I'm little sad that we didn't get the pole. Now we have to work on getting another win.

Kim Green , President -- Andretti Green Racing
"We've had a pretty good weekend but it is disappointing for everyone and especially the fans that we didn't get a chance to qualify. I think we had a good shot of getting the pole position. I think all three drivers are working well together and certainly Dan Wheldon has done a great job filling in for Dario [Franchitti]."

Michael Andretti , Team 7-Eleven
"We made a mistake on the setup this morning and I was very slow so my time from yesterday is what they used to set the grid. It's disappointing because almost everyone was faster today and I know Team 7-Eleven had a better car for qualifying. We definitely have our work cut out for us tomorrow."

Tony Cotman -- Team 7-Eleven Team Manager
"We're extremely disappointed the rain came and stopped qualifying. I'm sure we had a car good enough to be in the top five but we didn't get a chance to show it. We've been working on a good race car, so as long as we can avoid trouble I think we'll be alright."

- AGR -

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