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Published: 7/31/2004

Kanaan turns fastest lap during practice

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BROOKLYN, Mich. - IndyCar Series points leader Tony Kanaan posted the fastest lap in yesterday's practice sessions for the Michigan 400, which runs tomorrow at Michigan International Speedway.

Kanaan averaged 214.797 mph in his fastest run around the two-mile oval, but put little stock in the accomplishment that came on a day when intermittent sprinkles played with the practice schedule.

"We were working on our race setup a lot, so the time doesn't really mean a lot," Kanaan said. "There was a lot of drafting and we ran together a lot, because that's the way the race is going to be - running three abreast in packs - but mostly we worked on set-up for the race. Qualifying is not that big of a deal, since this is a superspeedway."

Qualifying for the race takes place today, and Kanaan, who leads the IndyCar Series with three wins this season, goes in as one of the favorites. He is not concerned about having people gunning for him.

"I don't think of there being any pressure on me," Kanaan said. "People can try to do it, and if I am a target, then that means I am running fast."

Rookie Kosuke Matsuura was the second-fastest yesterday, posting a speed of 214.797 mph on his best lap.

TRUCKS IN JUNE: NASCAR yesterday released its schedule for next year and indicated the annual Craftsman Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway will move to June. In recent years, the truck race had been paired on a weekend later in the summer with the Indy Racing League event, but that pairing will end with this weekend's races at MIS.

The Craftsman Truck race at MIS next year will be on June 18, the day before the Nextel Cup race as NASCAR moves to join those two circuits at more locations. The 25-race truck schedule includes 16 same-week races in cities playing host to NASCAR Nextel Cup events.

"Next year's realignment has created additional positive steps to enhance and expand visibility of the series to the benefit of our teams, tracks, sponsors and television viewers," NASCAR president Mike Helton said.

Besides the Michigan races, the final five events of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule will be in combination with Nextel Cup events.

Mansfield Motorsports Speedway, which staged a highly-successful inaugural Craftsman Truck Series race this year, retains its race with a May 15 date on the calendar.

SETZER ON POLE: Rain yesterday wiped out the qualifying for today's Line-X Spray-On Bedliners 200 at Michigan International Speedway, leaving the field to be lined up by owner's points. That puts Dennis Setzer on the pole in the Craftsman Truck Series event.

"I felt we had our best shot at probably scoring a pole today," Setzer said. "Of course, we didn't get a chance to see where it was. It stuck up pretty good in practice this morning, so we were excited about making a run at it. It's not that big of a deal - things sort themselves out pretty good once the race starts."

The 34 trucks in the event did get in one practice session early in the day, and Carl Edwards had the fastest time in that session. Edwards recorded a fast lap of 179.136 mph.

"Considering we get to start third, the rain doesn't affect us that much,"

Edwards said. "We felt we had a pretty good shot at the pole since we were really fast in practice."



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