Tony Kanaan ‘comfortable’ with aero package at Texas Motor Speedway

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It’s been 12 years since Tony Kanaan’s first actual race at Texas Motor Speedway, in the 2003 Bombardier 500. The 40-year-old Brazilian driver really only recalls one thing about it.

“It was such close racing, I remember you didn’t know who was going to win that race until the last lap,” Kanaan told MotorSportsTalk in a phone interview.

Kanaan, then driving for what was Andretti Green Racing, doesn’t even remember that he finished second to Al Unser Jr. by .081 seconds.

A lot has changed with the way the Verizon IndyCar Series races at the 1.5-mile track in Fort Worth. The most obvious difference is the reduction of the closer pack racing that defined races at the track until just a few years ago.

The field is now more stretched out and Kanaan is fine with that, even though his lone win at TMS came in the pack racing days back in 2004.

“I would say (I prefer) a little bit stretched out, especially back in the day you remember we had nasty wrecks with Kenny Brack and Tomas Scheckter,” Kanaan said.

“That was definitely a consequence of pack racing. I would say a little more stretched out, but that doesn’t mean the race isn’t as intense or as competitive, it’s a little bit different.”

A new wrinkle to the racing at TMS will be introduced this weekend with a new aero package, one that will be different from the one used during the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. INDYCAR is yet to define the specifics, but Kanaan was involved with a very early test of the aero kit.

“I did, actually at the end of last year and I’m pretty comfortable,” Kanaan said. “I think a lot of people made a big fuss about a couple of things (at Indianapolis). They were four completely (different) incidents. I would say I’m comfortable we’re going to put on a good show and a good race.”

Kanaan had more than 40 oval starts in CART under his belt from 1998 through 2002 before he made his first oval start as a full-time member of IndyCar (then IRL) in Homestead, 2003.

He won the second race of that season at Phoenix International Raceway, which was his first win for AGR, and second overall after edging Juan Pablo Montoya at Michigan in 1999 in CART, which was his first career win.

After having previously learned the ropes during two years in Indy Lights, Kanaan said ovals weren’t his cup of tea at first.

“I thought you Americans were crazy to do that kind of stuff. Then I got used to it, I guess,” Kanaan said.

All but two of Kanaan’s 17 career wins have come on ovals, including two in a row at Phoenix in 2003 and 2004.

“I became as crazy as you guys.”

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.