IRL: Phoenix: AGR - Andretti, Kanaan race report

Team 7-Eleven wins at Phoenix. Kanaan claims victory on desert oval. AVONDALE, Arizona (March 23, 2003) -- Team 7-Eleven's Tony Kanaan scored his first career Indy Racing League IndyCar Series victory on the one-mile oval at Phoenix...

Team 7-Eleven wins at Phoenix.
Kanaan claims victory on desert oval.

AVONDALE, Arizona (March 23, 2003) -- Team 7-Eleven's Tony Kanaan scored his first career Indy Racing League IndyCar Series victory on the one-mile oval at Phoenix International Raceway today and after two races now leads the IndyCar standings with 84 points. It was Kanaan's first IndyCar Series win and his second career Indy-style victory since he won at Michigan International Speedway in 1999. It was also Team 7-Eleven's first victory at Phoenix International Raceway since Kevin Cogan won the spring race in 1986 carrying the 7-Eleven livery. Kanaan's teammate at Team 7-Eleven and Andretti Green Racing co- owner Michael Andretti, finished thirteenth.

Kanaan, a 29-year old Brazil national and Miami resident, started from the pole position but a miscommunication at the start of the race saw him quickly drop back to third behind Scott Dixon and Felipe Giaffone. Kanaan remained in third position through to his first pit stop on Lap 34 but dropped to fifth on re- entry after several cars opted to stay out on the racetrack. Things became even more challenging for him when, after making his second pit stop on Lap 91, he stalled his #11 Dallara/Honda/Firestone and dropped to ninth position. Team strategy however prevailed, and on Lap 118 when the sixth caution period of the day began, the Team 7-Eleven driver remained on the racetrack and took the lead for good. While challenged for position by Sarah Fisher and then Helio Castroneves, Kanaan stayed at the front to claim his second career victory.

Kanaan's teammate Michael Andretti started fifth, but like Kanaan dropped back two positions at the start of the race. Andretti ran as high as fifth through the day's third caution period on Lap 47. While taking the green flag for the restart on Lap 56, Andretti was bumped by both Thomas Scheckter and Jacques Lazier and dropped back to the thirteenth spot. Andretti did however lead the field from Lap 91 through 114 while running a strategy different from his other competitors. His day came to an abrupt end on Lap 186 when he was involved in a Turn 1 incident with Gil de Ferran. Andretti was released from the infield medical center unhurt.

Helio Castroneves finished second ahead of Felipe Giaffone. Kanaan's technical partner Dario Franchitti in the Andretti Green Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola entry finished sixteen after a mechanical problem forced him to retire early. Kanaan now leads the IRL standings with 84 points. Castroneves is second with 75 points and Scott Dixon is third with 60 points. Michael Andretti is tenth in the standings with 45 points while Franchitti is 11th with 35 points.

The Indy Racing League IndyCar Series now moves to Japan for the first . time in its seven-year history Round 3 will be held at Twin Ring Motegi. in Motegi, Japan on April 13 .

Tony Kanaan , Team 7-Eleven

"When I got here this weekend Team 7-Eleven gave me great support. Michael (Andretti), Dario (Franchitti) and all the guys have just been so great. This is a really special moment for me. Somebody told me that they guy who wins here, will win the Indianapolis 500! I'm not so sure about that but I'm really happy for Honda, 7-Eleven, PepsiCo and all of our sponsors. I've got to thank Michael, Kim (Green) and Kevin (Savoree) for believing in me, I'm very proud to be a member of this team right now."

Eric Cowdin , Race Engineer

"This win has really been a team effort from start to finish. I'm glad that it came sooner, rather than later. We know that our next race (Japan) is very important for Honda and we're glad that we're able to go in there on such a positive note. There are a lot of tough competitors in the IRL, but Honda made it look easy for us today. Tony and I go way back (Cowdin engineered Kanaan to his 1997 Indy Lights Championship title) and I've always known that he has the talent to win. He showed us that talent today."

Michael Andretti , Team 7-Eleven

"This feels as great as if I had won it myself. I'm so happy for Team 7-Eleven, they did an awesome this weekend and really deserve this win. It's a shame that I'm not up there with him, but I am just thrilled. (On the incident with Gil de Ferran) I thought I had given him a lot of room; we were side by side when we came into the corner and I'm not really sure what happened. It's really too bad, but I'm okay."

Kim Green -- President, Andretti Green Racing

"We worked awful hard all weekend and effort equals results. I'm very proud of everybody on the team, I'm glad that Michael is okay. Tony drove one hell of a race, but everyone on the team chipped in very nicely. When you work real hard, things happen. We had a great day, this is a great start to the season and I'm very happy."

- AGR -

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Sarah Fisher , Felipe Giaffone , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jaques Lazier  , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Kim Green , Kevin Cogan