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Lotus Returns To Oval Racing For Final Two Events Of 2011 Season

Mark H

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Lotus returns to oval racing for the final two events of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season beginning this weekend with the Meijer Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky.

KVRT – Lotus has been exceptionally competitive on ovals this year. In the six oval races contested this year, counting Texas as two starts, KVRT – Lotus has finished

in the top-10 eight times, including four top-five showings and one podium performance. The team has earned one pole and led laps at Texas, Milwaukee; Iowa and New

Hampshire. All three KVRT – Lotus drivers will all be looking to solidify their positions or move up in the standings with strong races at the season’s penultimate event in Kentucky and then the finale in Las Vegas.

Tony Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, currently fifth in the championship race with 353 points, just 44 out of fourth is having his best season in three years and is looking to become the first KVRT driver to finish in the top-five in the standings. Team co-owner Jimmy Vasser holds the team’s season high finish placing sixth in the standings in 2005. Kanaan leads KVRT – Lotus with nine top-10 finishes including seven top-five showings and three podiums (second at Iowa, thirds at St. Petersburg and Baltimore). In six oval events this year the 36-year-old Brazilian has earned three top-five finishes with one podium (Indy 500, fourth; Texas race No. 2, fifth and Iowa, second) and led 97 laps (Texas No. 2 , 39, Milwaukee, 33 and Iowa, 25). Kanaan will be making his ninth appearance at Kentucky. In eight previous races he has qualified in the top-10 six times with one pole in 2007. He has finished in the top-10 seven times with five top-five showings including a win also in 2007.

"It's great that we're coming to Kentucky for the final oval stretch of the year,” Kanaan said. “I love the track and I have good memories of it winning from pole in 07' and a getting a podium finish in 09', so I'm looking forward to going back there and putting a good show for the GEICO - KVRT - Lotus guys and all my fans. I believe that Kentucky will be a good barometer for what we're going to see at the season finale in Vegas in a couple of weeks."

Takuma Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus, is having a solid year in his second IndyCar season. He has been in and out of the top-10 in the points all year and is currently 14th in the standings with 282 points, just 20 out of 10th. The 34-year-old from Japan has finished in the top-10 seven times this year including his first three IndyCar top-five finishes (career-high fourth at Mid-Ohio, fifths at St. Petersburg and Texas). He has also earned his first two IndyCar poles (Iowa, oval and Edmonton, street circuit) becoming the first Japanese driver to do this and led his first IndyCar race (Brazil) and subsequently three others. On ovals, Sato has earned three top-10 finishes (oval career-high fifth at Texas race No. 1, seventh at New Hampshire and an eighth at Milwaukee) and earned his first career IndyCar pole and led his first oval laps, seven, at Iowa (also led 13 laps at New Hampshire). Sato will be making his second start at Kentucky. In his debut last year he started 14th and finished 27th.

‘It's been a while since we raced last at 1.5mile oval so it will be quite refreshing and exciting,” Sato said. “Kentucky, last year, was a very tough race as we struggle to find a balance and the race ended short so I'm really looking forward to coming back there and having a strong race.”

Viso, No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, has been the victim of some bad luck this season which has hampered his results. However, the 26-year-old Venezuelan has rebounded recently with some very strong performances even if the results haven’t always been what they should. Viso is currently 18th in the standings with 229 points, 44 points out of 15th place. He has finished in the top-10 four times this year, twice on ovals, a season-high seventh in race one at Texas and 10th in the second plus road-course season-high ninths at Toronto and Sonoma. Viso has led two laps on an oval this year both at Texas No. 2.

“It's refreshing to be going back to the mile and half ovals especially after having a pretty intense road/street course schedule for the last third of the year,” Viso said. “I'm excited because we've had good performance on the mile and a half tracks. I believe we are going to have a strong end to the season with Kentucky and Vegas being our last two races. It will hopefully be a good close to 2011 and we will welcome the new car and engines next year.”

The Meijer Indy 300 will be held October 1-2. The race will be broadcast live on Sunday, October 2 on Versus beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET


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