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500-Winner Kanaan Cashes In, Ponders Future

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 28 2013

Tony Kanaan is 'congratulated' by fellow drivers Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves during the Indianapolis 500 post-race banquet. (Photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Tony Kanaan ended 11 years of frustration – and silenced perhaps his most personal critic – with his record-setting victory in the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Kanaan earned $2,353,355 from an overall purse of $12,020,065, a windfall for the popular Brazilian, team co-owner Jimmy Vasser and KV Racing Technology.

“I’m going to enjoy it, enjoy my life, enjoy my kid, that he hammered on me last week,” said Kanaan, referring to son Leonardo. “He said, ‘Dad, I’m 5-years-old and I don’t recall seeing you win a race.’ That was harsh. I told him to go to his grandma’s house and look at all the trophies that I have won. It didn’t go well with him. I can show him this one.”

Kanaan – and his infamous nose – will become the 100th face etched on the Borg-Warner Trophy. Prior to Sunday at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Kanaan had scored the 15th and most recent of his career victories on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2011.

Kanaan is scheduled to continue his whirlwind Victory Tour appearances in Fort Worth, Texas, on Tuesday to promote the Firestone 550k IZOD IndyCar Series/NASCAR Camping World Truck Series night-time doubleheader weekend June 6-8.

”I don’t know what to think,” said Kanaan, 38. “I mean, I don’t know what to expect, what’s coming. I’m going to enjoy it a lot. It’s been a while that I haven’t won a race actually. Usually you take it for granted sometimes. When you win very often, it’s one more, you’re thinking about the next one.

“Obviously, this one is the biggest one I’ve ever had. Now I have a championship (2004) and an Indy 500. It’s a huge, remarkable achievement for me. I mean, that proves that I can still race for a few more years. Our contract is up this year, so hopefully we’ll find something. I don’t want to go anywhere. I told Jimmy that before we had won anything. I have the people that I want to have.”

Kanaan, who started 12th, set a record winning average speed of 187.433 mph, breaking the previous mark of 185.981 mph set by Arie Luyendyk in 1990. Luyendyk held the record winning speed for the longest period in race history, 23 years. Kanaan won “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for the first time in his 12 career starts, tying an event record for earning a victory latest in a driver’s Indy 500 career. The other driver to win the race for the first time in his 12th career start was Sam Hanks in 1957.

Kanaan, who led 15 times for a total of 34 laps in his No. 11 Hydroxycut KV Racing Technology-SH Dallara/Chevrolet, won the race when he and rookie Carlos Munoz overtook leader Ryan Hunter-Reay entering Turn 1 on Lap 198 of 200 after a restart. During that restart, three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti’s No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda made contact with the wall between Turns 1 and 2, allowing Kanaan to cruise to the checkered flag under caution.

“Again, it’s so hard to win a race,” Kanaan said after an event that featured a race-record 68 lead changes among a race-record 14 drivers. “It’s even harder to pick a race to win. I’m glad I put myself out of that (non-winners) group and put myself in the other group.”

A student of Indy 500 history, Kanaan said he was particularly energized on race-day morning by a visit from Parnelli Jones, the 1963 Indy 500 champion. Jones had driven the No. 98 Agajanian Willard Battery Watson/Offy Roadster in which he won the ‘63 race around the IMS oval on Legends Day Honoring Parnelli Jones on Saturday. This year marked the 50th anniversary of Jones’ win in “Ol’ Calhoun.”

“Before the race, it was very special,” Kanaan said. “Parnelli came to me and said, ‘I want you to win!’ I’m like, ‘Whoa, all right.’ I’ve always admired the legends of this place. Rick Mears, A.J. (Foyt Jr.), Mario (Andretti), Parnelli. It starts to get into you. Then to have these people telling you they want you to win, it’s awesome. I’m glad I’m on the other side and I can put my big nose on that trophy.”

Meanwhile, the mercurial Munoz was voted winner of the prestigious Chase Rookie of the Year Award. Making the first IndyCar Series start of his career, the Colombian qualified second and finished second in his No. 26 Unistraw Dallara/Chevrolet for Andretti Autosport. Munoz, who owns two Firestone Indy Lights wins this season and finished fourth in the Firestone Freedom 100 at IMS last Friday, earned $964,205 including a $25,000 bonus from Chase.

Reigning series champion Hunter-Reay earned $583,005 for driving his No. 1 DHL Dallara/Chevrolet for Andretti Autosport to a third-place finish in a performance that saw him lead 13 times for 26 laps.

In driving his No. 25 RC Cola Dallara/Chevrolet to a fourth-place finish, Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti joined Kanaan in leading the race 15 times – the most by an Indianapolis 500 driver who did not win the race. Andretti, who led 31 laps, was awarded $469,755. Andretti also took the point lead from Takuma Sato of A.J. Foyt Racing after five of 19 races. Andretti leads Sato, 168-157, heading into the inaugural Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans on the Belle Isle circuit June 1-2.

Englishman Justin Wilson drove his No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda to an Indianapolis 500 career-best fifth-place result after starting 14th. Wilson earned $337,805.

Three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves earned $313,755 by driving his No. 3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet to a sixth-place finish. Castroneves, a native of Brazil, led one lap and now has led in eight of his 12 career Indianapolis 500 starts for a total of 232 laps.

Pole-sitter Ed Carpenter, who led six times for a race-high 37 laps in his No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara/Chevrolet, finished the 10th Indy 500 of his career in 10th position. The Indiana native received $405,955, which included $100,000 for the Verizon P1 Award as pole-winner.

The purse consists of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IZOD IndyCar Series awards, plus other designated and special awards. Purse awards were announced and presented during the Victory Awards Celebration presented by Ice Miller LLP on Monday at IMS. The 98th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 25, 2014. Ticket information can be found at www.ims.com/tickets. Ticket information also can be obtained by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY.

– John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 28 2013
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