Leeds, Ala. -- March 30, 2012 – Two completely different practice sessions highlighted the first day of action at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama in preparation for Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
The first practice was run in warm humid conditions on a dry track while the second was conducted under dark skies with heavy rain falling. Rubens Barrichello, driving the No. 8 BMC | EMBRASE – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone entry, led the way for KVRT in the first session with the fifth fastest lap, 71.6028 seconds (115.638 mph), on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn permanent road course. Tony Kanaan, behind the wheel of the No. 11 GEICO | MOUSER ELECTRONICS – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone car, recorded the seventh quickest time at 71.6800 seconds (115.513 mph). E. J. Viso, who pilots the No. 5 CITGO | PDVSA – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone machine, was 18th with a time of 72.5042 (114.200 mph).
In the second session, which was run on Firestone rain tires, all three KVRT drivers placed in the top-10 on the speed charts. Kanaan took team honors recording the fourth fastest lap with a time of 79.8840 seconds (103.650 mph). Barrichello logged the sixth quickest time with a lap of 80.1488 seconds (103.308 mph) while Viso posted the ninth best lap with a time of 81.5038 seconds (101.590 mph).
Barrichello, 39, qualified 14th, started 13th, and finished 17th due to a fuel meter reading problem in his IndyCar debut last week at St. Petersburg. A native of Brazil, Barrichello, who spent the last 19 years establishing himself as one of the top drivers in Formula One, admits he is going through a learning curve in IndyCar particularly on tracks he hasn’t driven on before like St. Petersburg where he drove his first laps on the first day of practice.
"Well what a difference it makes when you know the place,” Barrichello said. “I have only done one test here (at Barber), but it makes a huge difference compared to last weekend at St. Petersburg. Today was a day where I don't think anybody really had the chance to push the car to its limit. It brings a new challenge to the weekend because we only have 20 minutes tomorrow before qualifying so we have a lot of work to do with the engineers tonight to make sure the car is good enough for qualifying."
Kanaan, 37, is coming off a strong qualifying effort, qualified ninth, started eighth, but a disappointing result, despite a solid effort driving the car, in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season opener last weekend at St. Petersburg. The talented and determined Brazilian, in his 15th U. S. based open-wheel season, 11th in the IZOD IndyCar Series and second with KVRT, will be making his third start at Barber. He qualified eighth and finished eighth in 2010 and last year had one of the most spectacular performances ever starting 24th and improving 18 positions to finish sixth.
Commenting on today’s practice sessions, Kanaan said, "it was an OK day. Obviously the wet session didn't help if it doesn’t rain tomorrow, but it was fun to drive in the rain. We have a pretty competitive car so we just have to keep it right. It is so close again between the top-six guys that whoever makes the least mistakes on a lap will probably take positions second to eight. I am excited for tomorrow."
Viso, 27, has gotten off to the best start in his five-year IndyCar career (third with KVRT) finishing a team-high eighth in St. Petersburg. The dedicated and outgoing Venezuelan, who won the Prototype Challenge class in the 12 Hours of Sebring prior to the St. Petersburg event, will be making his third start at Barber, where he has shown flashes of speed. He qualified 10th in 2010 and has run solidly in the top-10 in both his previous starts at Barber, but is still looking for his first top-10 finish.
Regarding today’s practice, Viso said,“It was a long day today, but we didn’t run as many laps as we wanted. In the afternoon practice we were expecting to run for an hour, however it was raining so hard that we just did a few laps to get a reference for the height of the car and the braking. It was pretty much a slow day, but I think as a team we found some answers, Tomorrow everything will happen very fast. We only have a 20 minute session before qualifying so the laps we run then will be the key to a good qualifying result.
KV Racing Technology was founded in January 2003 and joined the IndyCar Series in 2008. The Indianapolis based team is owned by successful venture capitalist Kevin Kalkhoven and 1996 IndyCar Champion Jimmy Vasser. Veteran Motorsports manager, Mark Johnson is the team’s General Manager. Johnson is assisted by Team Manager Tom Wurtz, Technical Director Eric Cowdin and Operations Manager Steve Moore.
The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama continues tomorrow with a warm-up session from 8:00 – 8:20 a.m. following by qualifying, which is slated for 9:40 – 10:55 a.m.
The 2012 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network beginning at 2:00 p.m. (ET).
For more information about KV Racing Technology visit: www.kvracingtechnology.com or follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kvracing and Facebook: www.facebook.com/kvracingtechnology