Tony Kanaan

Tony Kanaan ended his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career as a driver exactly as it began: battling Helio Castroneves.

The two Brazilians that competed against each other in go-karts as kids four decades ago once again went wheel-to-wheel, but this was for 15th in the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday.

In the end, Castroneves was able to squeeze out a top-15 finish in the No. 06 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda, while the No. 66 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet of Kanaan crossed the finish line 16th.

“I told the guys before we started, it was either going to be a win, or anything apart from the win we were going to celebrate, regardless,” Kanaan said. “I think I would do a disgrace to almost 400,000 people that were there that made me feel the way they did to say I'm sad. I had a laugh. Helio and I battling for 15th and 16th on the last lap like we're going for the lead. It was like, ‘Who's playing pranks with us?’

“We both went side by side on the backstretch after the checker and we saluted with each other, and I just told him actually I dropped a tear because of that, and he said, ‘I did, too.’

“It was a good day for me, man. What can I say? We cried on the grid.”

While the result was far from what Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner, wanted in his 22nd and final start in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” sharing that moment with his longtime friend and rival Castroneves will leave a lasting memory.

“That's what's ironic,” Kanaan said. “We started it in '87, and the last lap of the race we're actually battling -- my last race in INDYCAR, and we're battling like it was for the lead.

“But I wouldn't have it any different, neither to him.”

Rugged Day for Arrow McLaren

It only took nine laps for Arrow McLaren’s day to unravel.

Alexander Rossi delivered a respectable fifth-place finish for the organization, but there was undoubtedly more left on the table.

After starting on the outside of Row 1 in third, Felix Rosenqvist remained a contender for most of the race, with his No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet leading 33 laps. Running in the top five after 183 of 200 laps, the Swede got caught out in Turn 1 as Josef Newgarden made a high-line dive and ended up into the wall, collecting Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood in the No. 27 AutoNation Honda. Rosenqvist finished 27th.

“I got on the wrong side of the wake and just pushed, pushed, pushed, pushed and then I almost got it, but the rear came out right before the exit of the corner and then I just hit the wall,” Rosenqvist said. “I tried to stay up there, but eventually after something broke in the rear and I just came back on the track and unfortunately, Kyle hit me. So, very unfortunate for him, as well.”

Disappointment was magnified when Pato O’Ward, who led a race-high 39 laps in the No. 5 Chevrolet-powered entry, crashed just nine laps later in Turn 3 while battling with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson for second. The Mexican was left fuming with how he was raced by last year’s “500” winner.

“I just think I was a little too nice there,” O’Ward said. “I just feel so bummed for the team. We had four very fast race cars. Now, there's only two in the race. There was seven laps to go. I was going to be going for it. Yeah, that was really way too nice. Next time, he comes with me.”

Then O’Ward added, “I got onto an apron to give him room. I got squeezed, and yeah, I won't forget that.”

Dixon Nets Solid Points Despite Frustrating ‘500’

Scott Dixon wasn’t in the fight for the victory like in previous years at IMS, but the tenacity to maximize the performance was certainly there.

Dixon wanted more than a sixth-place finish, and while it might not look spectacular at first glance, it was a strong, under-the-radar type of result. He was fourth on the opening lap after starting sixth in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. However, the first pit stop on Lap 26 couldn’t come soon enough as he was dealing with an ill-handling car and came out running 32nd.

While progress was slow and methodical, he navigated his way forward but didn’t quite have the same pace as his teammates Ericsson and pole sitter Alex Palou, who recovered from a mid-race collision on pit road to finish fourth. Dixon went on to record his fifth top-10 finish through six races this season.

“We just struggled with like speed all day,” Dixon said. “The first set of tires, whatever happened, but it just screwed us. It went so loose and the vibration 15 or 20 laps in was undrivable. So, we're not really sure what happened then because then we had never had it any other since. That put us in a pretty deep hole, man. We were 26th or something at one point. We just struggled with balance. One minute we were understeering, next minute we were loose again. I don't know if we were under downforce, just didn't seem to have enough grip.”

Visibly upset with the lack of pace, there was still some solace in gathering good points for the six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion.

“Obviously, a lot better than the last couple of years, that's for sure,” said Dixon, noting results of 17th (2021) and 21st (2022). “Great result for the team: two, four, six, seven, but only one counts, and that's winning. It's frustrating, man, but we just weren't good enough today.”

Odds & Ends

  • Stefan Wilson left the hospital and arrived at the track on Race Day morning to surprise Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. The Briton was originally supposed to drive the team’s No. 24 DRR Cusick CareKeepers Chevrolet, but that was derailed after sustaining a vertebrae fracture in a practice crash last Monday.
  • The Willard Agajanian Watson that Parnelli Jones drove to the 1963 Indy 500 victory was driven by his grandson Jagger Jones, a rookie in INDY NXT by Firestone for Cape Motorsports, during the historic race cars laps before the race.
  • Newgarden drove for Sarah Fisher from 2012-15 to start his INDYCAR career, and it is a connection that remains ever-present: “I saw Sarah's daughter, Zoey, in Victory Circle. Actually, fun note: Zoey texted me this month and said, I just have a feeling this is your year. She's never said that before, and she was very adamant. She said, ‘I don’t know why, but this is your year.’ I've heard that from a lot of people, OK, many times, so it's hard to react to any of that stuff, but she made a good call this year. Maybe she's my good luck charm.”
  • Santino Ferrucci’s third-place finish is the highest of his INDYCAR SERIES career and best “500” finish for AJ Foyt Racing since 2000, by Eliseo Salazar.
  • Simon Pagenaud came into this year’s race having completed 2,197 of 2,200 laps in the Indy 500, which spanned 11 starts. Today, though, that near-perfect mark took a hit as a crash (finishing 25th) left him eight laps short of going the full distance. Now, he has completed 2,389 of 2,400 laps across 12 starts.
  • 2014 “500” winner Ryan Hunter-Reay finished 11th in his Indy-only run for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and said, “I hope so” when asked about returning for another shot next year.