LEEDS, Ala. -- March 31, 2012 – KV Racing Technology driver Tony Kanaan made the Firestone Fast Six and qualified sixth while E. J. Viso just missed out making the final round and qualified seventh today at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama. Rubens Barrichello, the third of the KVRT trio, qualified 14th.
Kanaan, No. 11 GEICO | MOUSER ELECTRONICS – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone, qualified with a lap of 71.3740 seconds (116.009 mph) on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn permanent road course and will start on the outside of row three. Viso, No. 5 CITGO | PDVSA – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone recorded a qualifying time of 71.527 seconds (115.763 mph) putting him on the inside of row four. Barrichello. No. 8 BMC | EMBRASE – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone, had a qualifying time of 70.5664 seconds (1117.336 mph) and will grid on the outside of row seven. Kanaan advanced to the Firestone Fast Six, the final round of street/road qualifying, for the first time in two tries this year. He reached the second round last week at the season opener in St. Petersburg. Viso made the second round for the first time after just missing out at St. Pete. He missed the final round today by .043 of a second. Barrichello missed the second round by a whisker.
IndyCar street/road course qualifying has three rounds. In round one the drivers are split into two groups with the top-six in each group advancing to round two. The initial groups are determined by a draw with drivers who do not advance slotted based on time and position in their group. Drivers from group one take the odd number slots 13 through 25 and drivers from group two take the even positions from 14 through 26 regardless of time. In round two the top six drivers advance to the final round with drivers six through 12 slotted on the grid accordingly (regardless of whether their time was slower than the drivers who did not advance out of the first round). The fastest driver in the final round takes the pole with the other five drivers assuming the next five positions based on their time in the finals.
Kanaan, who earned his best qualifying position in three attempts here at Barber, has now qualified in the top-10 in the first two events of the 2012 season. He qualified ninth, started eight, at St. Petersburg to go with today’s sixth place starting spot. The 37-year-old Brazilian ran in the second group in round one and was sixth out of the 13 drivers in his group. He was fifth out of the 12 drivers in round two and sixth in the Firestone Fast Six. In the two previous events at Barber, Kanaan qualified eighth and finished eighth in 2010 and last year ran a spectacular race starting 24th and finishing sixth.
"It's a shame,” Kanaan said. “We haven't had much track time with the rain yesterday and the fog this morning,” The car so far feels quite good. I think warm-up tomorrow will be quite busy because everyone is going to be trying to figure out what to do for the race. We actually used the Firestone Fast Six this morning to start doing that, which helped me to get ahead of the game."
Viso also earned his best starting spot in three tries here at Barber and his highest starting position in two races this year. He previous best staring position at Barber was 10th in 2010. He qualified 13th, started 12th at St. Pete. The 27-year-old Venezuelan ran in group one in round one and posted the fifth fastest lap to advance to the second round. In round two he had just posted the seventh fastest time in his group and was on a lap that was quicker when Ryan Hunter-Reay spun off course causing a red flag and ending the session with Viso shut out of the final round. Viso finished a team-high eighth at St. Petersburg, the best finish, to start the season in his five-year IndyCar career (third with KVRT). He has run solidly in the top-10 in both his previous races at Barber, but is still looking for his first top-10 finish.
“Qualifying seventh is not bad,” Viso said. “It is a pretty good position to start this race, however we had the potential to be in the top-four. Unfortunately, in the second round of qualifying a red flag came out toward the end of the session when I was on my fast lap which would have put me into the Firestone Fast Six. All the time we spent last night with the engineers paid off today. The improvements we made to the car were very good; I am looking forward to scoring some more championship points.”
Barrichello, who benefitted from testing here earlier this month, was still hampered by a lack of track due to rain yesterday and an early morning fog that limited morning practice to one lap. He qualified 14th for the second time in two races, but clearly was more comfortable this weekend than in his IndyCar debut at St. Petersburg (qualified 14th started 13th). The 39-year-old Brazilian, who spent the last 19-years in Formula One, was among the leaders on the speed charts in every session prior to qualifying, but was seventh in his group in round one, which was one of the toughest since the inception of the street/road course qualifying format. The group included such well know drivers as Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, rising star James Hinchcliffe and defending series champion Dario Franchitti, who also did not advance out of group two in the first round.
Commenting on his qualifying effort, Barrichello said, "Oh Well. Once again I missed the next round by one thousand of a second. I wasn't able to run the morning session because of the fog and track time is so valuable for me, but no excuse, I have to get better and I will."
The 2012 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network beginning at 2:00 p.m. (ET).
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.
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