Pressure isn’t foreign to Tony Kanaan, who realized a goal May 26 by winning the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in his 12th start. At Pocono Raceway on July 7, there are a million reasons why Kanaan has to win the Pocono INDYCAR 400 Fueled by Sunoco.
Kanaan will earn a $1 million bonus if he can sweep the superspeedway races at Pocono Raceway and Auto Club Speedway on Oct. 19 to complete the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown. A potential consolation for Kanaan and others is a $250,000 bonus for winning two of the three.
“Obviously I'm the only one that has a chance to win the Triple Crown, so the pressure is on. But I'm excited,” Kanaan said. “Pocono will be the third of four races I will run in the Sunoco “Turbo” car, and after the success we have had in the first two -- finishing on the podium at both Texas and Iowa -- I really want to keep that momentum going at Pocono and hopefully do even better."
Kanaan is a noted fast closer, which was displayed in the past two superspeedway events. At Indianapolis, he started 12th, was leading by Lap 9 and was in the top three for the final 30 laps in a race that featured a record 68 lead changes. He started 13th at Texas, was running fourth with 10 laps left and passed Ed Carpenter on Lap 222 to finish third.
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Kanaan, driving the No. 11 Sunoco “Turbo” car, got his first look at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway June 25 during a Chevrolet manufacturer test with KV Racing Technology-SH Racing. He’ll participate in an Open Test on July 4 in advance of the 160-lap race July 7 (noon ET on ABC).
"I have never raced at Pocono Raceway, but we know we had a good car at Indy and had a good test at Pocono a few days ago," Kanaan added.
The three oval races renew the tradition of the Triple Crown from 1970s and ‘80s Indy car competition. The previous Triple Crown included 500-mile races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Ontario (Calif.) Speedway from 1971-1980 and from 1981-1989 at Indianapolis, Pocono and Michigan International Speedway.
Only Al Unser won all three races in a single season, when the four-time Indy 500 winner drove the Jim Hall-owned First National City Travelers Checks-sponsored car in 1978.
“For Tony to win after all his tries, it was really good for him," Unser said of Kanaan earning the 500 Mile Race victory. "The man is capable of winning; he showed that. But there are about 10 other guys out there that will be close chasing him. If he can win Pocono and then California, I’d be happy to have him join me as a Triple Crown winner, for sure.”
Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka unveiled the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown Trophy designed by Jostens, which is on tour in eastern Pennsylvania, in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“Tony did a great job in winning the Indy 500 and he is our clubhouse leader going into the Pocono Race on July 7,” said company founder and namesake Fuzzy Zoeller, the 1979 Masters champion and 1984 U.S. Open winner. “Tony can become the second person to win the Triple Crown if he wins at Pocono and Fontana. Not to mention that he can make a good haul by just winning one more.”