Tony Kanaan: In his own words
The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring has attracted the best and brightest in motorsports throughout the years. Next week, former IRL champion Tony Kanaan gets to add his name to the impressive list of drivers who have attempted to tame Sebring. As part of the Andretti Green Racing lineup, Kanaan will try to help teammates Bryan Herta and Dario Franchitti bring the team and Acura an LMP2 class victory - and possibly more - in its American Le Mans Series debut. What are his thoughts and goals? Here are his answers:
"I've always watched the Sebring race. I've been there many times for testing on the short course. Being able to join all the names, the race itself and the tradition, and adding that to my resume is exciting. I'm still trying to understand what my role is going to be. But I've done a few 12-hour races back home in sports cars and in go-karts. It won't be my first. The whole concept of the race is the same. You have to take care of the equipment and make it to the end.
"The longer course definitely is more exciting. The LMP2 car in Turn 1 is faster than anywhere else on the track in an Indy car. The car is much bigger and it took me a bit to get my measurements down. Turn 17 coming on to the front straight and Turn 1 definitely are my favorites because there is so much speed involved."
"We want to put ourselves in the best position to win. We can't pretend that we're going to go into the American Le Mans Series and immediately be successful. There are too many great drivers and great teams that are much more experienced. It definitely will be a challenge but I think we will do well."
His involvement with AGR's Acura program:
"I knew about (the Acura program) before most people. I offered myself right away. There are some conflicts with the IRL, but they told me they would love to have me. If they call me to do any other races and there are no conflicts, I would definitely do it."
Having Bryan Herta as a teammate:
"He was telling me everything from where to put my wheels on the track, what to expect, about the rules and a lot more. He was busy. I was asking him tons of questions about everything. He is a huge help at Sebring because he has raced there and knows the rules and the Series.
"The pit stop for us is normal. But when you have to get out of the car and help a teammate it's definitely something different. We probably did between 20-35 driver changes in practice. For us, it's not a big deal. You just have to get into a rhythm with removing the steering wheel, getting out of the car and getting the other driver in."
Lessons from the 12-hour test race:
"We learned that the car needs to last. You have to be quick but you have to be smart with the traffic because we will be passing cars left and right. Our IRL races are two hours long and you're going all-out the whole way. We tried to cover every basic point."
The 2007 American Le Mans Series opens with the 55th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 17 at Sebring International Raceway. The green flag will fall shortly after 10 a.m. with SPEED providing live coverage starting at 9:30 a.m. The race also will be broadcast by American Le Mans Radio with IMSA Live Timing & Scoring available at americanlemans.com