Andretti, Kanaan expect to contend in 2007
In 2006, the only drivers other than the four from Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing to win were Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti.
The duo hopes to do it a lot more in 2007.
Strong performance in preseason Open Testing has Kanaan feeling like Team 7-Eleven can return to its championship contending form after finishing a disappointing sixth in points last year.
"We spent a lot of time in the off-season working very hard to close the gap, and I think the lap times at the tests have shown that," Kanaan said. "But, we've still got some work to do on the Team 7-Eleven car before the Homestead race. We're getting closer to the red-and-white cars, and hopefully you'll see us win more races this season."
Kanaan, who claimed victory at Milwaukee, returns to the seat of the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Honda-powered Dallara with longtime chief mechanic Jeff Simon and engineer Eric Cowdin. Team manager George Klotz, who served as race strategist for Bryan Herta the last two seasons, will call races for Kanaan in 2007.
Andretti, the son of team co-owner Michael Andretti, turned heads during his rookie season in the IndyCar Series.
A narrow loss to Sam Hornish Jr., in the 90th Indianapolis 500 served as Andretti's coming out party, and he followed that up with three more top-five finishes, including a breakthrough win at Infineon Raceway in August.
With a win and Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year title under his belt, he looks to avoid the sophomore jinx by contending for the IndyCar Series title with the same leadership that led Dan Wheldon to the 2005 IndyCar Series crown - engineer Eddie Jones, chief mechanic Mike Horvath and race strategist John Anderson.
"I think what's realistic is a championship. I really do," said Andretti, who only failed to finish once after breaking halfshafts in each of his first two races. "People thought I was crazy when I said, 'I think I can win the Indy 500' before that race. I'm not going to say it to make me look good or anything like that.
"I think it's pretty realistic with the team we have this year, it's going to be pretty strong. A championship is one of my goals. There's one thing left to do at Indy, as well. I'm here to win this year."