By: Zach Catanzareti Staff Writer
Tony Kanaan, 48, has officially joined the all-time cheer club at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
If he hadn’t already been there for decades, Kanaan’s final run at the Indianapolis 500 Sunday will sure to bring one of the most grand cheers in the race’s 107-year run.
Indeed, for the 2013 race champion, this weekend has long been rumored and long been discussed within the inner walls of his various team shops. Some thought Chip Ganassi Racing would be his last shot in 2017. Then, a late-career move to A.J. Foyt surely would bring T.K.’s final turn in 2019.
After three part-time runs from 2020-2022 (the latter two seeing a turn to Ganassi), the blazing Brazilian is back again in 2023 with Arrow McLaren Racing, and calling it a show after Sunday’s 200th lap.
And he’s treating as such.
“It’s awesome. It takes a lot longer for me to go from [points] A to B,” Kanaan said Friday. “Everybody has something nice to say. I’m just taking it in. It’s really cool.
“I don’t think none of us here started racing to be famous or to be recognized by fans, we’re just race drivers because [it’s what] we love. But, when you see the impact and how much people appreciate what I’ve done, It actually honestly feels quite nice, so I’m enjoying it.
Partnering the overwhelming fan support, Kanaan is also grabbling with the reality that he could go out with the ultimate career bang: Winning the Indy 500.
Placing ninth in last weekend’s qualifying, he and teammates Patricio O’Ward, Alexander Rossi and Felix Rosenqvist are one of the month’s most consistent quartette . And with a third-place run last time out in ’22, Kanaan is itching to get going. But, not without soaking in every last moment.
“I have big moments of happiness and then I cry and I’m happy again,” he said. “But, I knew that was going to happen from today on. Tomorrow, the parade and I don’t know how I’m going to hold myself in driver intros. But after that, we’ll just go and do we need to do. Leave it all out there for one last time.”