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Tony Kanaan overcomes early struggles in Indy qualifying

Tony Kanaan, of Brazil, drives through a turn during qualifying for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Friday, May 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Tony Kanaan has endured more than his share of bad luck at Indianapolis.

He has been sidetracked by crashes, rain and mechanical problems. On Friday, an old friend bailed him out of more trouble.

When the 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion asked teammate Scott Dixon for help, Chip Ganassi Racing scrambled to make changes and managed to get the Brazilian driver deeper into qualifying than he thought possible.

“We started the weekend with big problems up until 25 minutes to go in the session this morning,” Kanaan said after qualifying sixth for Saturday’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis. “We finally got it together. I’ve got to thank Scott for the setup. I was all the way back there (21st) and we finally put his setup on and we started to chase.”

By the first of three rounds of qualifying, Kanaan had one of the best cars on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course.

He reached the second round by finishing fourth in the 13-car group and advanced to the final round by finishing fourth again in a 12-car field. In the final round, Kanaan couldn’t quite catch Dixon, the three-time series champ from New Zealand, or the four Team Penske cars that had been near the top of the speed charts all day Thursday and Friday.

But Kanaan had no complaints this time, and finished high enough to give himself a shot at his second career win in Indy.

“I’m pleased,” Kanaan said. “I think we can go from there. When I made it to the fast six, I knew I wasn’t (moving up) so we just went out and did one lap. Those guys were on another level.”

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