It’s official: Tony Kanaan intends to make his 22nd Indianapolis 500 start next May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
2013 “500” winner Kanaan announced he will race in the 107th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge during an Instagram Live chat on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES account Thursday from Hawaii, where he is competing this weekend in the Ironman World Championship triathlon.
“I’ll be there,” Kanaan said. “I will be back.”
Kanaan said he is trying to stay with Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2023 Indy 500 after finishing third in a CGR entry last May, his best result since winning in 2013. He said the team’s plans for next May aren’t set due to the announcement last week that Ganassi driver Jimmie Johnson is stepping back from full-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition, with his schedule not firm for 2023. Johnson indicated the “500” may be on his limited schedule next year.
“If Jimmie’s not in the fourth car for the ovals, then I don’t see myself there (at CGR) because Jimmie will be the fifth car, which I totally understand,” Kanaan said. “They’re not my only option. I talked with Chip last week, saying, ‘Look, if you don’t mind, I’m going to start looking around. He was like, ‘Of course.’
“He said to me if it makes sense, we’re going to do it. The relationship is there.”
2004 INDYCAR SERIES champion Kanaan has compiled an impressive “500” record since his debut in the race in 2002. He has produced 12 top-10 finishes in 21 starts. He also has led 352 career laps, good for 14th all time, and has led in 15 of his 21 starts, tied with Scott Dixon for the most races led in Indy 500 history.
Brazil native Kanaan won the race at a then-record average speed of 187.433 in 2013 driving for KV Racing Technology. He also won the pole in 2005 for Andretti Green Racing, one of his three career front-row starts in the “500.”
His last full-time season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES came in 2019, with AJ Foyt Racing. Since then, Kanaan has competed in all the series oval events in 2020 for the Foyt team and 2021 with Chip Ganassi Racing. His third-place finish last May for CGR was his only series start of the season, as he raced full time in the Brazilian Stock Car Pro Series and the SRX series in America.
Kanaan is one of four Brazilians to win the Indy 500, including four-time winner Helio Castroneves, two-time winner Emerson Fittipaldi and Gil de Ferran. Kanaan, who turns 48 on New Year’s Eve, would become the oldest winner in Indy 500 history with a second victory.
“You can’t beat experience,” Kanaan said. “Look at the way I approached the race this year. You know, more or less, how the race is going to go. You know when you need to go. That doesn’t mean you can make it happen.
“It’s like anything: I wish I had this experience 15 years ago. But that’s not how life works. Hopefully what I’ve done my entire life is keep myself in shape and sharp so when I got older and experienced, I can still use that.”