Honda Racing / IZOD IndyCar Series / RacingLine
Amazing: Kanaan Propels Honda's Indy Blast
For Tony Kanaan, it was a dream come true.
On Sunday, May 11, Kanaan led a contingent of eight Honda drivers to a successful performance during qualifying for the 87th Indianapolis 500. Four Hondapowered cars - led by Kanaan's - secured starting positions in the first two rows, and among the top six qualifiers, for the race, Honda's first Indy 500 since 1995.
"This is really amazing," Kanaan said. "I'm so happy for my team and Honda. Everyone worked so hard to make this happen. It's very special for me."
Kanaan's four-lap average of 231.006 miles per hour put his Andretti Green Racing/Team 7-Eleven Honda/Dallara/Firestone in the middle of the front row. Only two-time defending Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves topped Kanaan's average to win the pole position.
Honda drivers Robby Gordon, Dan Wheldon and Kenny Brack also qualified in the first two rows, with Gordon alongside Kanaan in the front row after qualifying third.
The dominating performance was made even more remarkable by the conditions. A wicked crosswind - gusting at times to more than 30 miles per hour - gave teams trouble throughout the day. Kanaan and Andretti Green teammates Gordon and Wheldon changed their setups to accommodate for the gusts.
All three held the No. 1 position for a time Sunday with the Honda HI3R Indy V-8.
"I went out in the morning and couldn't make any corner flat-out," Kanaan said. "In my qualfying run, I made all four corners flat. I wasn't happy after the morning practice, so I waited for my teammates and got their setups. Give Robby the credit. It was exactly his setup."
All eight Hondas landed among the top 15 of Sunday's 24 qualifiers. Another day of qualifying was held May 18 to fill the 33-car field for the famous race.
Roger Yasukawa put his Honda on the fourth row, while Hondas driven by Michael Andretti, Greg Ray and Shinji Nakano filled the fifth row.
All eight drivers expressed their satisfaction with the Honda engine, which won the pole for two of the first three Indy Racing
League events this season - and won the IRL race at Phoenix International Raceway.
Perhaps Wheldon, a rookie who topped the speed charts throughout practice leading up to Sunday's qualifying, put it best:
"It's just been a pleasure to drive this car," Wheldon said. "It's always been fast no matter what the conditions. It's been very, very competitive. It's a joy to drive."