IRL Drivers Competing In Karts

Eleven drivers from the Indy Racing League will participate in the ninth annual Granja Viana 500-mile go-kart race in Brazil November 19-20.

Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan, the past two IndyCar Series champions, will lead a contingent of drivers that also includes IndyCar Series stars Felipe Giaffone, Bryan Herta and Vitor Meira.

Menards Infiniti Pro Series drivers Marco Andretti, Nick Bussell, series champion Wade Cunningham, Chris Festa, Travis Gregg and Bobby Wilson also will compete.

"I'm really excited to race again at this 500-mile go-kart race," said Kanaan, who has been a member of the winning team five times. "Everybody will be trying very hard to beat us since we won last year, and it will be very difficult for us to defend our title. Our team is really strong, and I've been practicing my go-karting as much as possible while I've been at home in Miami."

Last year, Kanaan, Wheldon, Giaffone and Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello finished first in the nearly 12-hour event on the 20-turn, 7/8-mile course located on the outskirts of Sao Paulo. Meira and Helio Castroneves were part of the second-place team.

Seventy-four teams, composed of between two and 10 drivers, will compete at the facility built, owned and maintained by the Giaffone family. The karts are all powered by 13-hp Honda engines. All proceeds from the event are donated to charity.

The IRL, Firestone, FedEx Express and Howard Sales, Inc. are backing the entry of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series team, which was put together by championship team owner Brian Stewart.

Cunningham won the CIK-FIA World Karting Championship in 2003, while Festa, Gregg, Bussell and Wilson also have significant karting accomplishments in the past.

"I've never done anything like this," Cunningham said. "When I was racing karts, it was difficult to stop and enjoy yourself. You were always competing. Now that I've moved on, it should be a lot of fun, really enjoyable."

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