Advertisement

Archive for Wednesday, June 18, 2003

IRL’s Kanaan buoyant at Speedway

June 18, 2003

Advertisement

— Maybe there is something in Brazil's water.

Indy Racing League points leader Tony Kanaan, who often has joked that the best drivers came from Brazil because of its water, was drinking American H20 during Tuesday's media session at the Kansas Speedway.

But the way Kanaan stole the show, it seemed someone had spiked his Aquafina.

The 28-year-old Kanaan mugged for TV cameras, shushed Indianapolis 500 winner and good friend Gil de Ferran during his media session, and provided comic relief for the most popular question of day: What about Kansas' July heat?

"I'm from Brazil," Kanaan said. "I think I'll be OK."

Kanaan said he was blown away at the Speedway during Tuesday's practice racing for the IRL Kansas 300. The race is July 6.

"I was driving the highway and I saw the grandstands and I was amazed," Kanaan said of the 1.5-mile tri-oval track. "When I came in here and drove the track, it was even better."

Sounds like his first IRL season.

Kanaan, who switched to Andretti Green Racing after five years on the Championship Auto Racing Teams circuit, currently holds the IRL points lead with 217 -- 49 more than New Zealand's Scott Dixon, with Brazilians de Ferran and Helio Castroneves third and fourth.

Indy Racing League driver Tony Kanaan horses around for a TV crew.
A handful of racers tested cars Tuesday at Kansas Speedway in
Kansas City, Kan.

Indy Racing League driver Tony Kanaan horses around for a TV crew. A handful of racers tested cars Tuesday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.

Kanaan won the pole in his first IRL race, finishing fourth in Miami.

Kanaan followed that feat with a first-place trophy -- winning the Purex Dial Indy 200 at Phoenix International Speedway.

But the next race proved rough.

Kanaan placed 14th in the IRL race in Japan, but was lucky to finish at all. He re-fractured his left wrist in a crash with Dixon, aggravating a previous injury incurred in a CART event.

The wrist didn't keep Kanaan from racing in the Indy 500 a month later. Kanaan finished third behind winner de Ferran and two-time Indy champ Castroneves.

Indy Racing League driver Scott Dixon stops in pit row during
practice at the Kansas Speedway Tuesday.

Indy Racing League driver Scott Dixon stops in pit row during practice at the Kansas Speedway Tuesday.

"Obviously at the Indy 500, the biggest thing is finishing in the top three," said Kanaan, who five times in six season starts has finished in the top five. "After Indy I'm concentrating on the championship, so I take every race as the Indianapolis 500."

Thus the testing at the Speedway.

"It was my first day today," Kanaan said. "It's fast. It's narrower than Texas, so it takes you a little time to adjust yourself coming out of the corners.

"It's really fast. I like fast tracks. I think we're going to have a good weekend."

Perhaps, but there's always the water.

"Yeah, people say it's the water that we drink, but I'm drinking American water," Kanaan said about his fast start. "I guess that's not it.

Indy Racing League driver Scott Dixon answers questions following
practice at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City Kan.

Indy Racing League driver Scott Dixon answers questions following practice at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City Kan.

"Here in America, you have so many options. When you grow up, you can be a football player, you can be a baseball player, you can be a soccer player, you can be a race-car driver. You can be anything. In Brazil we have a lot less than that."

Indy Racing League driver Gil de Ferran, who won the Indianapolis
500 earlier this season, speaks with members of the media. De
Ferran was in Kansas for time trials Tuesday at Kansas Speedway in
Kansas City, Kan.

Indy Racing League driver Gil de Ferran, who won the Indianapolis 500 earlier this season, speaks with members of the media. De Ferran was in Kansas for time trials Tuesday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.