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A Conversation With ... Tony Kanaan

THE MODERATOR: Tony, I don't really know where to start with, you and your week or that last bit of qualifying. I've been around here a long time. I don't think I've ever seen anything unfold like that did. It's one of the most amazing things I've seen. But amazing.

TONY KANAAN: Yeah, it was I remember the first time I came to live in America. I live in Miami. And I remember one day I'm home and it was a day like this. And they said there was a hurricane coming the next day. I said this is America, the people are crazy. There's no way.

And the next day it was so nasty that I couldn't believe it. And that's what happened to me. It was beautiful days all week. I think we had a good car. We didn't have a shot for the pole. But we had a car to be in the top nine easy. I was a little bit too greedy.

You live, you learn. And we crashed. And today was just a nightmare. I think we fixed the car. We didn't fix the car. We changed cars. And in my out lap after the leak check, we didn't know what happened.

Luckily, enough, if you have to crash, you crash slowly. And it was a crash that we were able to fix the car. And since then, obviously as you guys know, the preparation of the cars and the side part and the rear wing, it all really counts a lot for the speed.

I had the rear end of the Hunter race car, Danica's engine cover, Marco's front wing, and it didn't fit very well in the car, and that we knew we were going to lose some speed.

And apart from that, the conditions today were the hottest we've ever seen. The track was really slick. I saw everybody complaining. So it's tough to keep it cool and say: Yeah, we're just going to go out at 5. It's the last day. You're not in the field yet. Crashed two cars. And just stay cool. That's what Steve Horne was telling me the whole time.

And I did. I did. I believed it. Obviously it was a very emotional day. I'm not the type of guy I don't cry very easy. The other Brazilian does all the time (laughing). But it was a tough day for me. Every time I came out it was very emotional.

I mean, you have an idea how much the fans like you. And then I hear from you guys because you guys are out there and saying I'm the fans' favorite, this and that. And I never really paid a lot of attention. I always treat my fans really nice. But every time I came out here, it was amazing, driving to Pit Lane to make an attempt or to try my car again, how big the crowd cheered.

And that made me very emotional, and, again, it was a long day. Probably lost five days of my life today. Not a lot of hair anyway to lose. But here we are. I'm happy to be here.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Tony Kanaan?

Q. Your team took some hits this week in terms of what's been said about them, in terms of preparation for the cars. What can you say about the team kind of rallying in a way to put your car out there today?

TONY KANAAN: I'm a team player, and I think you guys can tell that from day one when I drove five cars. I have nothing to say about my team but actually good things. Guys rebuilt three cars in 24 hours. That's preparation, if somebody has any doubt. I believe that somebody had rolled two cars off. I don't I can count them on one hand how many teams can rebuild that.

So sometimes the quick assessment, it's making under the heat of the moment, without people thinking. Sometimes it's making to cover some problems that you have. And I'm not here to judge anything, but I would never throw my team down. Those are the guys that stayed here until 2 in the morning yesterday. They were here 7 in the morning and at 9:30, they're rebuilding another one.

And they celebrate as hard as we did the pole in 2005 here, when I'm starting 32nd, so we're not lacking anything. If you're not capable (laughing) I know you fell for me. I'm always thinking of you. Congratulations to you guys, too.

So I believe that it's easy to blame people instead of waste your time blaming somebody, just go work, go to work and make it better. That's my opinion. I think I don't spend a lot of time complaining. Maybe I get home and I complain to my people and break my bus, but in front of them, those are the guys that are working so hard.

I don't believe somebody who wakes up in the morning and says, "Today I'm going to make the 11 car slower because I don't like Tony." That doesn't happen. We have very capable people. The team, it's one of the most winning teams in IndyCar. So we're not lacking anything. We're behind and we're going to work for it.

Q. You were talking about how frustrating or I guess how excruciating this day was, but you're normally in a position of waiting to see how your speed plays out on top of the charts. What was it like waiting to see how that last row, your speed, was going to hold up?

TONY KANAAN: I think in life you should experience many things. And I probably took for granted the last eight years I've been here. Never started worse than 6. You just saw when I saw Bryan, Bryan had one of these weekends where he was my teammate. Although I really felt for him at the time, I don't think I had an idea how bad this could be.

And, I don't know, I think I appreciate a lot more now many, many things, and I think it's normal you only appreciate some of the things after you go through it. And, I mean, I remember being here on the pole in 2005. I think I'm more excited today that I'm starting 32nd.

Q. You said that you were able to remain calm, I guess, throughout. I respectfully call bullshit. Seriously, you were able somehow to maintain your confidence and cool throughout that nonsense?

TONY KANAAN: I think I'm getting old. I'm 35 years old. I've been around a lot. And I think you learn from your experiences. I mean, I'm not 23 anymore. And I think I learned a lot with my teammates in the past. Bryan was one of the good ones. And days like this I do miss you, because you always have something good to say.

No, it's not bullshit. I'm not going to say, yeah, yeah, it was totally cool sitting in the garage; yeah, we have to wait until 5. No, of course not. But there's a difference of being calm and be aware of you might not make it then actually lose your composure and go out and crash again.

Because in the heat of the day, we made five attempts with five new set of tires, and I couldn't make it a single lap. I couldn't make the corners. The car was horrible. I was going to crash every lap, and I came back in. So I think I hold up pretty good. I mean, my girlfriend can say something different.

But it wasn't bullshit. It was cool. But it was not as cool as earlier sitting on the pole right now.

Q. Tony, on Friday we had you and P.T. sitting there, and it culminated in a love fest between you and P.T. Can you express what you feel Paul Tracy's feeling right now?

TONY KANAAN: Yeah, I feel bad for him. I mean, I think obviously it wasn't his decision. And I had a huge mixed feeling at the time because Bryan is a good friend of mine. Steve worked with me back in the days. We won our 12 hours of Sebring together. And these guys, if you have to pick what it's really like, my God, thank God I didn't have a lot of time to think about this.

And it wasn't his decision. And he was the one that got out of the car when I was in line to go to my first attempt and said: I think we're all safe. So I saw him walking out of the car. I thought, cool, he's in. I realized actually in my interview that he was out of it because I didn't even see it. Too bad. I think it was a bad call on their part. But that's racing.

Q. I know it's been a tough couple of days for you, but what kind of advice can you give Danica? She's had pretty much of a tough season. I think she really respects you a lot as the senior member on this team.

TONY KANAAN: She's calling me o

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