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IZOD IndyCar Series: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union

IZOD IndyCar Series: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union

Tony Kanaan
April 10, 2011


BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Tony Kanaan of KV Racing Technology. I'm still not used to saying that.
TONY KANAAN: Me neither.
THE MODERATOR: Really, you've become the story today. Starting 24th, finishing 6th, and pre-race we caught an interview with you on TV where you said you thought you had a top 15 car today. What changed that?
TONY KANAAN: A little bit of luck, and a good start. I think we took advantage to pass a lot of cars on the start, and that actually changed my strategy. We're thinking about being at lap 10. Then when I put myself in the front, we had to change that a little bit.
I have to thank my team. I think the whole crew of the 82 car. The guys did a great job on the starts. We're fairly new as a team. If you think about it, we've done, what, six pit stops so far this year.
And it helped to have a clean day there, and Takuma is as good as an engineer gets. I struggled all weekend. It was not a coincidence that we had a problem that I was dead last every session. It was a reality.
We worked pretty hard. We went to Takuma set-up after warm-up. It was a car that hadn't been driven all weekend long, and it worked.
So I did my thing. We stayed out of trouble, especially nowadays with the double-file restarts, that's what you've got to do. So we did that, and we had a great finish.

Q. (Inaudible) Talk about Oriol today.
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, five laps to go, Oriol is a very aggressive, but very clean driver. I knew he was not going to give me that fifth place that easily. I was being cautious because one position in the last three laps and maybe we could hit each other and end up our day.
So I forced the issue a little bit. I thought he was going to make a bigger mistake. I wasn't close enough. After that I knew it was pretty much done.
So it was a great battle. I think you know watching the race, trying to watch the race from the outside, I think the fans really enjoy it. I think we saw a lot of passing. If you think about it, you'd say this is a track that is tough to pass, and we saw a lot 6 passing today. So I believe it was a great race

Q. (Inaudible)?
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, if you look at it, it's something that I don't know what it is, but it makes it easy for me.
How I passed him, I tried to stay out of trouble and I looked for gaps. I'm always even on the recall laps, I'm looking where I can go in the session, especially when I'm starting back there. I tried different lines to see if my car would stick there.
You've got to think about on a start, on a restart, you're not going half the speed that you're doing on the fast lap. So there are places on the outside of the corner that you can go and the car will still stay there because you're not at full speed.
And that's what I did. I stayed on the inside on turn one, and on the outside in turn two, and people get like a traffic jam. So I just get a clear lap and a get a clean traffic on the outside.
So sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. 80% of the time it works in my favor, and sometimes somebody just makes a mistake, and then they'll take me out.
It happened in Ohio in the past, and it happened in a few places, but when I'm able to pull it out, it looks good.

Q. (Inaudible)?
TONY KANAAN: I think it was better. At least for the fans and for racing, it looked more exciting. I still believe we need to try to take care of each other a little more. I mean, every one of them we had a crash, so it's not a coincidence. But every one of them we have a lot of passing too, so it's a trade there.
It's only the second race. I would give us a chance for us to settle in and make sure that that's going to work.
Do I like it? I mean, it plays in my favor big time, but no, I don't. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to work for it and make it. If it's exciting for racing and for all of us, why not. We're going to have to figure it out.
We're driving the cars. It's not like we crash all the time. Well, you're driving it. You have to take care of each other. You have to to give each other room. Things are going to happen, but I'm 50-50 right now.
I would say, yeah, it's playing in my favor right now. If it was single file, would I have passed that many cars? I don't think so. So we'll try to make it work.
I got told that the fans liked it, so we'll see. We'll see how the crowd looked at it. I'm just a driver. They tell me what I'm going to do, and I'm going to have to do it, you know.

Q. Were you impressed with how you were feeling yesterday as to how you feel now?
TONY KANAAN: I'm getting old, so I don't get really -- I've been through so many things that I don't get like down, down. I was mad at myself because I'm like how can I be that last every session. But I never doubt myself. The day that I start doubting myself I should hang up the helmet and go do something else.
So I was disappointed, but it doesn't help to be disappointed, because being disappointed is not going to fix the set-up. So I went down there. I tried to work. I listened to Takuma's debrief. He had a great warm-up. He was the fastest car on the team all weekend long.
So I tried everything I could on my end to help in the warm-up, and nothing that I did worked. So we went to his set-up and tried to make it work and that's pretty much it. Yeah, I wasn't happy, but you the race is a whole different game, and I knew that.
I'm not saying that I expected to win the race. I was talking to Kurt, and I thought I had a top 15 car. To finish sixth, so I guess I was a little bit off, but in a good way.

Q. Before the race there was talk about the double-file restarts. (Inaudible)?
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, we're all concerned about 21, so we took care of 21 now we stretched it to 22 now. The next race we'll take it to 23 and see what's going to happen (laughing).
The nature of this track, turn one and two made us race pretty tight. The only place to pass is the hair pin, which I would say we'll call 24. So everybody was trying to set each other up for over there. I think that's why all the action happened.
Turn one is not really a passing zone. It's not like St. Pete, but it will be interesting to see what's going to happen in Long Beach.

Q. Three weeks ago did you ever anticipate sitting here now with a third and an amazing sixth place finish?
TONY KANAAN: No, six weeks ago I didn't even imagine myself driving a race car. So this weekend what kept me going was I had to remember the winter that I had and just be thankful to be on the racetrack.
Of course, I'm very competitive. I wasn't happy with what I was going through this weekend. But, no, not at all. We're doing a great be job, but we have a lot of work to do.
We're kind of setting the bar too high. And I don't like the pressure right now. I just got called into a meeting after this to talk to the team, and we'll try to make it better. It's a team that's willing to do well. They had a lot of bad things happen to them in the past. If I can bring some experience and pump these guys up and take us to the next level, I will do it. But we have a lot of work to do.
We're far away from being a team that can win a championship, but the results keep coming and we're going to keep taking it.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on a great finish.
TONY KANAAN: Thank you.



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