May 27, 2013, 1:38 PM EDT
If it wasn’t for an eleventh hour deal struck less than a week before the 2011 IndyCar season opener in St. Petersburg, Tony Kanaan might not still be racing in IndyCar today, and have had the chance to capture his elusive first Indianapolis 500.
Kanaan lost his ride with Andretti Autosport – then called Andretti Green Racing – at the end of 2010 when sponsor 7-Eleven withdrew its longtime support. Since then, Kanaan has had to chase sponsorship on his own to help keep his career alive with KV Racing Technology, which is co-owned by Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser (pictured with Kanaan).
“The past three years I’ve been working extremely hard, probably even harder than driving the car, to find the sponsorship to keep surviving,” Kanaan said in a press conference Monday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “I’m not saying I’m not going to keep doing that. I would like to have a little bit less pressure on my side, to just really concentrate about driving.”
Even this year, several reporters have discovered that Kanaan’s No. 11 entry – which has been backed by a consortium of sponsors including Hydroxycut, Mouser Electronics, Itaipava, N-O-XPLODE energy drink, HIPPINO.com among others – did not have the full support to continue for the rest of the season.
KV has added Imran Safiulla, longtime supporter of Simona de Silvestro, to its management team to help keep the team on track with de Silvestro’s second car. Additionally, KV has re-entered a partnership with James “Sully” Sullivan of SH Racing that first occurred in 2011, to help keep Kanaan’s car sponsored.
“I’m happy where I’m at,” Kanaan said of his status at KV, as he is in a contract year this year. “I’m confident that with this we can build something solid for the following year. We’re so sketchy up until this race, we didn’t even know if we were going to do the entire year. Now I’m pretty sure we will.”
Video from NASCAR America
- 2-for-1: Jamie McMurray wins Martinsville pole, sets track record 0
- Caterham given dispensation to miss Austin and Brazil 2
- Caterham the latest team to fall foul of the Leafield ‘curse’ 1
- Administrator takes over running of Caterham F1 Team 1
- Remembering the Hendrick Motorsports airplane tragedy: 10 years later, it still seems like just yesterday 3
- Talladega mystery: Did missing woman even make it to NASCAR race? Second fan to disappear in 18 months 14
- WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 5 p.m. ET for Martinsville outlook 0