KV Racing Technology driver E. J. Viso finished eighth in today’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Rubens Barrichello was the victim of a fuel miscalculation and placed 17th in his IndyCar debut while Tony Kanaan suffered an electrical problem and finished 25th.
Viso, No. 5 CITGO | PDVSA – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone, started 15th. The 27-year-old Venezuelan, who was sufferingfrom an illness that took hold last night and drained much of his energy, still managed to drive a very smart, patient race. Working a traditional three-stop fuel strategy orchestrated by KVRT co-owner Jimmy Vasser and getting strong work from his crew, Viso saved fuel when he needed to, but still managed to run competitive and consistent lap times. Viso got as high as fifth and with any luck from caution flags could easily have place in the top-five.
“I was very sick last night, so I had very little energy during the race,” Viso said. “Despite that we had a pretty good event. The team gave me a good and consistent car and I was able to keep a good pace all through the race. This was the first time Jimmy (KV Racing Technology co-owner Jimmy Vasser) called one of my races and he was a big help. I really liked what he did. He was a key person today. I am excited how we started the season and am looking forward to next weekend at Barber.”
Viso, now in hisfifth IZOD IndyCar Series season and third with KV Racing Technology, made his fifth appearance at St. Petersburg. This was his second top-10 finish and second best showing behind a fourth place performance in 2008 in just his second IndyCar event.
Barrichello. No. 8 BMC | EMBRASE – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone, who made his IndyCar debut today started 13th. The 39-year-old Brazilian drove a solid race getting as high as eighth when several cars pitted during an early yellow. He dropped into the mid teens after his first pit stop, but was running a strategy that projected to have him back in thetop-10 by the end of the race. Unfortunately, due to a fuel miscalculation he ended up running out of fuel just short of the end of the race.
Commenting on his first IndyCar race, Barrichello said, “I had fun out there. Unfortunately we had a meter reading problem so I ran out of fuel at the end. However, I enjoyed the race and dicing with other cars, but would have liked to have been able to push more. It has been a good learning curve this weekend and I look forward to being back in the car in a few days for the next race.”
Barrichello, who spent the last 19 years crafting a remarkable record in Formula One, made his first IndyCar start 24 days after announcing he would join the IZOD IndyCar Series and 55 days after stepping into the cockpit of an Indy car for the first time.
Kanaan, No. 11 GEICO | MOUSER ELECTRONICS – KV Racing Technology w/ SH Chevrolet/Firestone, started eighth and was having a strong race when on lap 21 of the 100 lap event he suddenly lost power due to an electrical problem.
“It was a shame today because I think we could have had a good result. We had an electrical problem. We are not really sure right now what it was or what caused it, but my dashboard just went blank and the car shut down. Looking around, it is a beautiful day with everyone remembering Dan (Wheldon). It reminds you that there are a lot more important things in life than dropping out of a race.”
Kanaan, who is contesting his 15th U. S. based open-wheel season, 11th in the IZOD IndyCar Series and second with KVRT, made his eighth appearance on the streets of St. Petersburg today. This is the first time the 37-year-old Brazilian has not finished in the top-10 at this event. His best showing is second in 2005. He placed third last year in his debut with KVRT.
Next up for KVRT is the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, March 30 – April 1, at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. The race will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network beginning at 2:00 p.m. (ET).