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.
Mar 8, 2014, 5:00 PM EST
Although a number of Sprint Cup drivers were quite vocal Friday about NASCAR’s new “knockout” qualifying system, particularly when their cars enter pit road and how to keep their motors cool, NASCAR will likely keep the format as is for the time being.
Mar 8, 2014, 4:36 PM EST
Neither Joey Logano or Brad Keselowski have ever won at Las Vegas.
Mar 8, 2014, 3:47 PM EST
Jamie McMurray was the fastest driver in Saturday’s final practice for Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. McMurray’s best lap was his first of the final session, covering the progressively-banked 1.5-mile surface at 186.942 mph. A close second was Daytona 500 pole sitter Austin Dillon at 186.896 mph. Third through fifth were Clint…
Mar 8, 2014, 3:25 PM EST
The F1 supremo and the Russian president talk in Sochi, site of this fall’s Russian Grand Prix.
New online network prepares to launch, will feature lower-tier NASCAR series, sports cars, motorcycle racing
Mar 8, 2014, 3:00 PM EST
A new online-only network that will focus on some of NASCAR’s lower-tier series, as well as similar series in sports car and motorcycle racing, will make its debut this Wednesday, March 12.
Mar 8, 2014, 2:30 PM EST
The 2012 Sprint Cup champion writes about perhaps the most critical opportunity of his career.
Mar 8, 2014, 2:10 PM EST
Ty Dillon will pace the field in this afternoon’s 2014 Boyd Gaming 200 Nationwide Series race, having earned his first career NNS pole Saturday morning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Mar 8, 2014, 1:30 PM EST
First his truck made it into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Now, NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series driver Darrell “Bubba” Wallace hopes someday he’ll be reunited with the truck if he is fortunate enough to make the Hall of Fame as an inductee.
Mar 8, 2014, 1:30 PM EST
The cars mark the 25th anniversary of the partnership between the department store giant and the legendary race team.
Mar 8, 2014, 12:51 PM EST
Michael Waltrip Racing teammates Brian Vickers and Clint Bowyer were fastest in Saturday morning’s first of two Sprint Cup practice sessions for Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Mar 8, 2014, 12:27 PM EST
Jimmie Johnson has seen a big change in Dale Earnhardt Jr. this season, particularly in confidence.
Mar 8, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
The winds of change are blowing over Formula 1 in 2014 – but there’s far more to it than smaller engines and ugly noses.
Mar 8, 2014, 11:15 AM EST
American prospect secures a test in Abu Dhabi next week for F1′s feeder series.
Mar 8, 2014, 11:00 AM EST
No new teams for 2014, but plenty of driver changes, staff signings and engine supplier switches creates an interesting dynamic for the new F1 season.
Mar 8, 2014, 10:00 AM EST
Former F1 driver believes that losses of Raikkonen, Allison, Boullier and de Beer will hit Lotus hard.
Mar 8, 2014, 9:00 AM EST
Race at Port Imperial is still on the cards, whilst a return to Magny-Cours is expected in 2015.
Mar 8, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
Fan favorite returns to F1 in 2014 after a year away in the World Endurance Championship.
Mar 8, 2014, 7:15 AM EST
Hamilton and Rosberg look to end Red Bull’s dominance in 2014, and if testing is anything to go by, it could well be the year of the Silver Arrows.
Mar 8, 2014, 6:30 AM EST
Breaking Alberto Ascari’s sixty year record of nine straight wins could prove to be too big an ask for Vettel in Australia.
Mar 8, 2014, 2:33 AM EST
Friends and family of Dick Trickle are looking to build a memorial to honor the late stock car racing legend in his hometown of tiny Rudolph, Wis.
- Instead of significant improvement, 2014 starting off the way 2013 ended for Danica Patrick (10)
- Kurt Busch gives IndyCar chance to show they’ve learned lesson on promotion (10)
- Chrysler orders nearly 100 pristine Dodge Vipers destroyed (7)
- Alonso discovers an F1 take on Ellen’s Oscar “Selfie” (6)
- Disastrous day for Red Bull as Vettel manages just half a lap (5)