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Lotus Qualified 19Th, 22Nd And 23Rd For Tomorrow’S Meijer Indy 300

Mark H

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Lotus drivers Tony Kanaan, Takuma Sato and E. J. Viso qualified 19th, 22nd and 23rd respectively for tomorrow’s Meijer Indy 300 on the 1.5-mile oval at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky.

Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus qualified with a two-lap average speed of 216.484 mph and will start on inside of row 10. Commenting on his effort today Kanaan said, "I'm not going to say that I'm disappointed with our qualifying run because I knew coming into it that the

GEICO – KVRT - Lotus car was not fast enough to fight for a spot in the Top-10. On the other hand, I believe that we have a good car in traffic, and that's all that matters for the race here in Kentucky. Obviously I'd like to have a better starting position, but I believe we'll be better tomorrow during the race than what the qualifying position suggests."

Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus, qualified with a speed of 215.856 mph. He will grid on the outside of row 11. “It was not a good qualifying session,” Sato said. “The practice sessions were reasonable. The car was balanced and good in traffic, but we struggled in qualifying big time. The two laps were almost identical, so we just lacked speed. Unfortunately, we don’t have a warm-up session before the race so we are going to have to rely on the data we have collected and hopefully come up with something to improve the car for tomorrow.”

Viso, No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology – Lotus had an average speed of 215.789 mph and will lineup on inside of row 12. “The car felt pretty stable and I was able to get up to speed fast, but definitely we didn’t go as fast as we would have liked,” Viso said. “My teammates also found they had the same problem. There is something not right with our cars and we need to look at it tonight and make it better for the race tomorrow.”

Kanaan has now qualified in the top-six four times in six races on ovals this year (not counting Texas No.2 where he drew the pole) including season-high thirds in New Hampshire and Iowa. The 36-year-old Brazilian will be making his ninth appearance at Kentucky. He has qualified in the top-10 six times with one pole (2007) in nine attempts. In eight previous starts, he has finished in the top-10 seven times with five top-five showings including a win (2007). Kanaan is currently fifth in the championship race with 353 points, just 44 out of fourth, based on nine top-10 finishes including seven top-five showings and three podiums (season-high second at Iowa, thirds at St. Petersburg and Baltimore). In six oval events this year (Texas two races) he 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).

This is the first time this season that Sato has failed to qualify in the top-10 on an oval. He has qualified in top-10 in five of six oval events (not counting Texas No. 2) with three top-five starting spots and one pole (Iowa), his IndyCar career first making him the first Japanese driver to win an IndyCar pole. Sato will be making his second start at Kentucky. In his debut last year he started 14th and finished 27th. The 34-year-old is currently 14th in the standings with 282 points, just 20 out of 10th. He 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). Three of Sato’s top-10 finishes have come on ovals (oval career-high fifth at Texas race No. 1, seventh at New Hampshire and an eighth at Milwaukee). He also led his first oval laps, seven, at Iowa (also led 13 laps at New Hampshire).

Viso has not qualified well on ovals this year other than in Milwaukee where he qualified an oval career-high sixth however he has had some very strong performances in the races, even though his final results don’t always show it. The 26-year-old Venezuelan will be making his fourth appearance at Kentucky Speedway. In three previous races he has a best starting position of 18th in 2009 and a best finish of 13th in 2008. 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.

KVRT – Lotus has been competitive on ovals this year. The team has now qualified in the top-10 a total of 11 times including seven top-five starting positions and a pole in six oval events (not counting Texas race No. 2 where Kanaan got the pole by virtue of a draw). In the six oval races contested so far 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 (Kanaan, second in Iowa). The team has led laps at Texas, Milwaukee, Iowa and New Hampshire.

There were two practices prior to qualifying. In the first, Sato had the fastest lap for KVRT – Lotus with a speed of 218.428 mph (24.3925 seconds) putting him fifth on the practice report. Kanaan was 12th with a lap of 217.524 mph (24.4938 seconds) with Viso 23rd at 216.459 mph (24.6144 seconds). In the second session Sato was again the fastest with a lap of 218.554 mph (24.37884 seconds) placing him 11th on the practice report. Kanaan was 20th overall at 217.524 mph (24.4938 seconds) with Viso 21st at 217.425 mph (24.5050 seconds).

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


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