May 16, 2013, 1:45 PM EST
Which driver is the one that the IZOD IndyCar Series’ faithful really want to see win the 97th Indianapolis 500?
When one ponders that question, some obvious thoughts come to mind. Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal would certainly satisfy the longtime fans and intrigue the casual ones. Same goes for three-time “500” winner Helio Castroneves. You’d think Takuma Sato would be up there too after his brazen move for victory in last year’s race, which ended in the fence but still earned him a bigger following.
But then one comes to Tony Kanaan. And then the question is truly answered.
The Brazilian has been part of the series’ nucleus for a decade, going through good times (his IndyCar championship in 2004) and bad times (the death of good friend and former teammate Dan Wheldon in 2011). Through it all, he has garnered an almost universal measure of respect in the paddock and in the stands.
The latter part is represented vividly every May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Kanaan is often greeted with some of the loudest cheers.
“To me, the best memories I have [of Indianapolis], it’s [that] every time I drive my golf cart out there, I can hear my name – big time,” he said on Wednesday at IMS.
In 11 career starts at Indy, he has led laps in eight of them. He earned the privilege of leading the field to the green flag in 2005. He has come close to winning on the sport’s biggest stage. But he has yet to sip the milk and get his face on the Borg-Warner Trophy.
Naturally, some believe the Brickyard owes him one. Perhaps they remember 2007, when he led 83 laps but wound up 12th. Or maybe they remember that vicious double hit Kanaan sustained in the 2009 race, in which his car suddenly broke right at full speed into the backstretch wall and then went skidding into the Turn 3 wall. Then there’s 2010 – coming from dead last in 33rd starting position to lead the race only to come in for fuel with five laps to go while running second.
Star-crossed moments like these have been prevalent for Kanaan at Indy, and he thinks that they may have made him an even more heroic figure amongst the fans there. But while he appreciates their belief that he is owed something, he knows full well that the Brickyard plays no favorites.
“I love the way the fans think that, because I think they know how much I work for it,” he said. “But it would be really unfair for me to say ‘I deserve to win this thing’ because there’s another  people here looking for that as well.”
Besides, he already has an idea of what it would be like to finally claim victory at the world’s most famous oval.
“The year that I started last , we went all the way to the lead and we ended up finishing 11th because of a strategy [call] at the end,” said Kanaan. “I got out of the car, the entire place was screaming my name, and Dario [Franchitti] had won the race.
“If I never win this thing, I think I got the feeling from the people around here [on] how it is to win.”
But one can imagine what those cheers would be like if he actually did.
Let’s just say Tony Kanaan, the people’s champion, would make a very popular winner this month.
Dec 9, 2013, 8:00 PM EST
Michael Shank Racing has confirmed that John Pew and Ozz Negri will be back with the team for the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, co-driving the No. 60 MSR Ford Ecoboost/Riley. Pew finished 14th in last year’s GRAND-AM Rolex Series championship, while Negri finished 17th despite missing several races due to a setback in his…
Dec 9, 2013, 7:00 PM EST
Audi has already banked wins in the 24-hour races at Daytona and Le Mans this year, and also in the 12 Hours of Sebring in March. Now, the manufacturer can add a 25-hour race win to its mantle … even though Thunderhill is basically a NASA club race in December. Still, a win’s a win,…
Dec 9, 2013, 6:46 PM EST
Two of NASCAR’s rising stars were at the center of a major issue during Sunday’s Snowball Derby short-track race in Pensacola, Florida. Chase Elliott, the son of former Sprint Cup champion Bill Elliott and a part-timer in the Camping World Truck Series, appeared to have won the prestigious Super Late Model race as he crossed…
Dec 9, 2013, 5:10 PM EST
After an arduous 2013 season, it appears Formula One tire manufacturer Pirelli will have ample opportunity to get it right for 2014. As part of the FIA’s raft of regulation changes issued today, Pirelli was given the green light to stage a three-day test session next week at the Bahrain International Circuit. All F1 teams…
Dec 9, 2013, 3:28 PM EST
For one day, Dale Earnhardt Jr. traded in his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for a new ride – a pink, Power Wheels 4×4. It’s all part of Earnhardt’s recent collaboration with star YouTube video producer Devin Graham that involved a “cardboard rodeo” at Dale Jr.’s property in North Carolina. With the help of an…
Dec 9, 2013, 2:00 PM EST
All three Andersen Promotions-run series in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000, are underway in the Chris Griffis Memorial Road to Indy test this week at Barber Motorsports Park. Some news and notes about the driver/team combinations to follow: INDY LIGHTS USF2000 drivers Michael Epps and Alexandre Baron will…
Dec 9, 2013, 1:45 PM EST
A meeting of the F1 Strategy Group and Formula One Commission today in Paris has yielded approval of several new regulation changes, most of which will take effect in 2014. But perhaps the biggest change of all won’t come until 2015, when a budget cap will be instituted. A working group made up of representatives…
Dec 9, 2013, 1:30 PM EST
Williams has continued its efforts to emerge from the back of the Formula One grid with a pair of new technical hires that are making their way to Grove from two of F1′s top teams. Former Lotus member Dave Wheater has come on board as Williams’ new head of aerodynamic performance, while former Red Bull…
Dec 9, 2013, 1:00 PM EST
The outside world is lamenting Nico Hulkenberg’s being passed over, once again, for a top flight seat on the Formula One grid. Yet Hulkenberg is thankful to have any seat in an F1 world where commercial interests have played such a major role in seats of late. “I believe I’m in a good place and just…
Dec 9, 2013, 12:30 PM EST
After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, my colleague Tony DiZinno and I are taking a look back on how each of the 13 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders fared this past year. Running ninth on the final standings table this…
Dec 9, 2013, 12:00 PM EST
After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, my colleague Tony DiZinno and I are taking a look back on how each of the 13 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders fared this past year. Coming up eighth after earning his first berth…
Dec 9, 2013, 11:30 AM EST
After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, my colleague Tony DiZinno and I are now going to start taking a look back on how each of the 13 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders fared this past year. Finishing seventh following a…
Dec 9, 2013, 11:00 AM EST
FIA Formula E is bringing in some star power for the 10th and final team for its inaugural season, which begins in September 2014. Venturi Automobiles announced a partnership with award-winning actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio to create the new Venturi Grand Prix Formula E Team. DiCaprio will work in partnership with Gildo Pallanca Pastor, founder of…
Dec 9, 2013, 10:23 AM EST
NASCAR’s planned test at the Charlotte Motor Speedway was originally set for today, but has been moved to Wednesday, Dec. 11 due to inclement weather. Teams will still have the option to be on track from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. During the afternoon, Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR vice president of innovation and racing development and…
Dec 8, 2013, 6:00 PM EST
“Red Bull driver No. 1 wins another championship in 2013″ is a headline that can be applied to not just four-time Formula One champ Sebastian Vettel, but also to Australian V8 Supercars legend Jamie Whincup. Whincup captured his fifth V8SC title Sunday in Sydney, for his third straight title at age 30. Whincup won Saturday’s…
Dec 8, 2013, 4:00 PM EST
He may have missed out on one drive, but Portuguese driver Antonio Felix da Costa won’t be rideless in 2014. Following a successful first test, da Costa was named to BMW’s DTM program for 2014 as part of the manufacturer’s annual year-end ceremony in Munich. An official release confirmed him as one of two new…
Dec 8, 2013, 2:00 PM EST
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Dec 8, 2013, 12:00 PM EST
Prior to Friday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony, the always-entertaining “After the Lap” event for fans took place earlier in the week in Las Vegas. And it was there we learned Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a fever … and the only prescription is more eBay. Dale Jr. already has the popular vote locked…
Dec 8, 2013, 10:36 AM EST
Target Chip Ganassi Racing appears close to unwrapping an early Christmas present, in the form of the replacement for the retired Dario Franchitti in its No. 10 Target Chevrolet for 2014 in the very near future. Reports from both Autosport and RACER this week have more or less narrowed the field of contenders, at least…
Dec 7, 2013, 7:00 PM EST
A few minor bits and pieces of news around the IndyCar Series and the Mazda Road to Indy have popped up over the last couple weeks. Here’s a quick roundup, since the last one we did a couple of weeks ago: Besides Tony Kanaan having his first running in Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar machinery, Francesco…
- Cost cap, double points for Abu Dhabi part of new FIA regulation changes 7
- Team co-owned by Leonardo DiCaprio is 10th and last for FE 1
- Franchitti’s ride appears down to Briscoe or Tagliani vs. the field 2
- Jay Mohr’s skewering monologue stars at NASCAR banquet (VIDEO) 1
- Todt re-elected as FIA President, plans “ambitious” second term 1
- Eddie Gossage: “Foolish move” by F1 to go head-to-head with NASCAR at Texas (12)
- GP of America organizers issue statement on race postponement (10)
- IndyCar TV sked for 2014 released; 13 races to be shown on NBCSN (9)
- Cost cap, double points for Abu Dhabi part of new FIA regulation changes (9)
- NASCAR Sprint Cup silly season update for 2014 (8)