Notes & Quotes: Firestone 175 at Twin Ring Motegi
This week’s iRace track was a random draw and returns the NTT INDYCAR SERIES to Twin Ring Motegi which is located about two hours north of Tokyo.
The Firestone 175km will compete on the virtual 1.52-mile oval track in a 113-lap race or 75-minute timed race. It will be broadcast on NBCSN Saturday afternoon starting at 2:30 p.m. ET.
The Indy cars ran on the oval from 2003 through 2010. In 2011, the earthquakes in Japan necessitated moving the race from its normal April date during the cherry blossom season to September when it became the final race of the season. Damage to the oval required that the teams race on the 2.98-mile road course which became the final race for the Indy cars at the Twin Ring Motegi.
Kanaan won the Indy car race on the oval track in 2007 after posting podium finishes in 2004 (2nd) and 2006 (3rd). In nine starts, he has six top-10 finishes including four top-5s. He started in the top-3 four times.
This weekend he will be driving the 7-Eleven Chevrolet marking a return to the sponsor with whom he won the 2004 NTT INDYCAR SERIES title and the 2007 race in Japan. 7-Eleven continues to be involved with Kanaan as a personal sponsor. In the iRacing INDYCAR Challenge Series, Kanaan made it to the finish in Michigan (18th) last week after system errors knocked him out of contention the first two weeks.
TONY KANAAN: “I have a lot of good memories about Twin Ring Motegi. It was a track where I had a lot of success. It was a fun track to drive, it was a fast, fast oval. Driving the sim this week and remembering the times in Japan brought back a lot of good memories. I had a lot of fans and friends there. I think it is my second biggest fanbase. This weekend I’m debuting the 7-Eleven car which is a throwback livery and I’m excited! Hopefully we’ll have a good weekend – I’m looking forward to it.”
Sebastien Bourdais made his only start at Twin Ring Motegi in 2011 after spending the 2009-2010 seasons competing in Formula One. In Japan, Bourdais started 14th and finished sixth driving for Dale Coyne Racing. In the iRacing INDYCAR Challenge Series, his best finish (only finish) to date is 13th
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: "I have never raced the oval at Twin Ring Motegi, but the little practice I did so far has been quite fun. The tire degradation is high with the low downforce setup, so the end of stint gets rather interesting. Finally, I hope the No. 4 Tresiba/Chevrolet will have better success than it has experienced in the prior events.”
Dalton Kellett has never competed in Japan and is looking forward to his first race there, albeit a virtual one. In iRacing competition, Kellett has two 11th place finishes at Watkins Glen International and Barber Motorsports Park; he placed 16th at Michigan Int'l Speedway last week.
DALTON KELLETT: “I am excited that Twin Ring Motegi was chosen for the Random Draw iRace. It is a track I have never been to. Ovals on iRacing have proven to be great for exciting races, so I'm sure this weekend will be no exception. And I expect that we will make it to the green flag this time. Once again, tire management will be critical. I don't believe we will be able to run multiple lanes for as long as we could at Michigan. Drivers will have to choose between being aggressive early-on in the stint, to gain track position, or saving their tires to have something at the end. Looking forward to being back in the No. 41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet!
To follow the Foyt team cars of Tony Kanaan (No. 14 7-Eleven Chevrolet), Sebastien Bourdais (No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet) and Dalton Kellett (No. 41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet), visit the AJ Foyt Racing Facebook page where their points of view will be live-streamed.