Despite dealing with an injured right hand, Tony Kanaan still managed to break into the Firestone Fast Six and claim a solid fourth-place starting position for tomorrow’s Sao Paulo Indy 300.
That should increase already high anticipation amongst the home crowd going into the race. Kanaan finished third in his first-round group and then hit the top of the second round charts before earning his best start of the season thus far.
“We had a great car from the get go, but there was no way I could beat those guys that had sticker reds during the Fast Six,” said Kanaan, who is a native of the city of Salvador in the Brazilian state of Bahia. “It was a disadvantage not having the new Firestones, but you know, they got it by luck because of how their qualifying group went on.
“I’m happy. This is my home race; we have the fans cheering and the backing from my local sponsor. Starting in fourth in a street course is not bad at all and I think it’s going to be weird seeing just three cars in front of me at the start.”
According to the AP’s Tales Azzoni, Kanaan received an injection before Saturday’s qualifying and will get another before the race tomorrow. He’s also had to continue icing his injured hand every time he’s out of his No. 11 KV Racing Technology machine.
Nonetheless, Kanaan easily out-paced his fellow Brazilian racers Ana Beatriz and championship leader Helio Castroneves on Saturday. Beatriz will start 16th and Castroneves 18th after both were caught out by James Jakes’ engine fire that ended their first-round session.
Kanaan’s ability to race through the pain impressed Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver and good friend Dario Franchitti, who’s convinced that the Brazilian will be a contender.
“In the [Turn 11] hairpin using maximum lock, it’s difficult on your hands and your wrists — Tony is there with essentially one hand working properly and in a lot of pain,” the Scotsman said.
“…Give him a sniff at a win, he looks — he can see a win, he’ll be pushing very, very hard. That was an impressive performance today, definitely.”