Jul 13, 2014, 1:15 AM EDT
In the last two Verizon IndyCar races at Pocono Raceway and Iowa Speedway, Tony Kanaan has led a combined total of 325 laps.
That’s even more impressive when you consider that from the 2011 season all the way through this year’s Houston doubleheader weekend, he paced a total of 231 laps.
But despite being the class of the field at both Pocono and Iowa these last couple of weeks, Kanaan is still searching for his first win since the 2013 Indianapolis 500 and his first win as a member of Chip Ganassi Racing.
It seemed sure to happen Saturday night in the Iowa Corn Indy 300. Notably strong during the longer green-flag runs, Kanaan and his No. 10 Target Chevrolet looked unbeatable and spent 247 laps at the front.
But he was ultimately the final victim of Ryan Hunter-Reay’s tremendous rush on fresh tires, which he grabbed during a caution on Lap 284.
With two laps remaining, Hunter-Reay roared by Kanaan to take the lead for good. Josef Newgarden, who also pitted on Lap 284 for tires, would get past Kanaan before the checkered flag as well.
“Strong result? Well, it was a good one,” said Kanaan, who appeared set for victory when he took the lead from teammate Scott Dixon with 37 laps to go. “What can I say? We had a good day. I mean, we lead 247 laps out of 300. I think we showed them what we had.
“At the end there, sometimes strategies and gambles play out. We got played. Fair enough. I’ve won races like that, too. I lost today. It’s just hard to take it. But I think to win races we got to run up front, and that’s what we’ve been doing in the past three races. We just got to keep doing that.”
But while Kanaan was disappointed about losing out, he remains hopeful that the big win will come soon now that he feels fully acclimated to the Ganassi team.
“It always takes a little bit to get a bunch of guys to synchronize and work together with a big change like it was,” he noted. “The driver is definitely the most important piece that holds the whole team together. So I feel comfortable now. They feel comfortable with me.
“I think I gained their trust. I think I proved we can win races. We’re slowly making big progresses, and I’m extremely comfortable there now. I hope I can give Chip his first win of the year so far, because it hasn’t been as good a year as we thought it was going to be.”