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Kanaan breaks 29-race pole drought, will start up front at Kansas

Kanaan breaks 29-race pole drought, will start up front at Kansas

Brazil's Tony Kanaan will start his next IndyCar Series race where he finished the last one. And for the first time in 16 races, the car on the pole won't be a red one.
Kanaan, coming off a victory last week at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, broke a 29-race pole drought on Saturday in qualifying for Sunday's Kansas Lottery Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway. His last previous pole was for the 2005 Indianapolis 500.
He turned in a quick lap of 214.118 mph (344.57 kph) on the 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) tri-oval, edging American Sam Hornish Jr.
"A lot of people brought up the momentum we've had since Japan," said Kanaan, who won here in 2005 and earned his seventh career pole on Saturday. "But this has been my strongest season since 2004, when I won the championship, as far as the first three races."
Kanaan is three points behind leader Dan Wheldon, who will start fourth on Sunday, in the season standings. His pole for Andretti Green Racing, which placed four drivers in the top 10 starting positions, broke a streak of 15 races where the pole went to Marlboro Team Penske or Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Hornish, who won here in 2006 on his way to the IndyCar Series title, had a lap of 213.992 mph (344.37 kph).
"We started second here last year and we won the race," Hornish said. "Maybe this is a good omen. But anyone in the top 10 can work their way through the traffic if you have a good handling car."
Hornish's Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves, qualified third at 213.817 mph (344.09 kph). He was followed in the top 10 by Wheldon, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Vitor Meira, and Andretti Green drivers Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick.
"We're going to have to do some work and make sure we're fast enough in the race," England's Wheldon said. "I think we thought we'd be a little bit better than what we were. We definitely have the ability to be very quick. We haven't got it right just yet."
Patrick, who won her first career pole at Kansas Speedway in 2005, wasn't happy with her starting spot.
"It was a hell of a lot worse than what I thought," Patrick said. "I honestly thought that I was maybe going to be pole. My qualifying simulation this morning was the same as Tony's, for the most part.
"I don't know what happened. If I knew, I could say, 'I knew what was going on and I just decided to drive around in fourth gear.' There's no answer, and that's why I'm so mad."
Milka Duno, who will make her IndyCar Series debut on Sunday, will start at the back of the 21-car field after running a fastest lap of 208.256 mph (335.14 kph).
"We were doing as much as the car would give to us," said Duno, the Venezuelan who only earned her rookie license on Thursday and will be competing on three days' practice. "We still have some more work to do on the car. The engineer did some good things to make the car quicker, but we did the maximum the car would give us."
The Kansas Speedway race was moved from July to April this year to give the IndyCar Series a U.S. race leading into the Indianapolis 500. Temperatures in July often soared well past 90 degrees (32 C), but the forecast for Sunday's race calls for highs in the mid-80s F (high 20s C) and winds of 5-15 mph (8-24 kph).
Some drivers expected the packs to tighten up as a result.
"Normally, when you have the hot weather, it makes the car really slippery and the track really difficult," Castroneves said. "I think now, with the cooler temperature, it will help everyone _ not only myself, but I hope we will be safe and everybody will have a good show."
Hornish said he'd rather run in the heat.
"I always liked it when it was hot," he said. "It makes everything slick, makes the cars slide around, makes it a little bit harder to drive. That's what I'm interested in, because I feel like we have more of an advantage under conditions like that."
Castroneves laughed when told of his teammate's comments.
"Sam is too brave, man," he said. "Thank God we don't listen to him."


Updated : 2021-04-23 04:10 GMT+08:00