INDIANAPOLIS — Tony Kanaan had a quiet afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Until he didn’t. Kanaan started 6th from the Outside of Row 2 for Sunday’s 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 and raced mostly in the top 10 for a majority of the day. However, he didn’t steal much airtime though.
That’s partly because his two teammates of Scott Dixon and Alex Palou looked to be in a class all by themselves while Kanaan just waited to bide his time.
It paid off.
“It was a cat and mouse day. We kept pretending we were not fast enough all day. When it was time to go, we actually went,” Kanaan said.
Went he did. Palou was caught by a pit road problem early while Dixon was speeding on pit road late. Conor Daly’s car wasn’t as good as it was earlier now Kanaan was coming.
He came off pit road for the final time in the top five. He moved up to 3rd when he passed Felix Rosenqvist for position late. He was charging hard after Pato O’Ward for second before Jimmie Johnson’s crash with 7 to go.
The red flag ended up being displayed as a result of that.
“I said that two days ago that I think that race, it was going to be played between my teammates,” he said. “I don’t know. If you’re going to go and say, If Dixon didn’t have the hiccup in the pits, this and that, I’m not going to sit here and say I was going to win the race. I had a car to do it for sure.
“When it was four laps to go, and we’re all there, if it wasn’t for that red flag, I think it was more Pato and I playing for second place than Ericsson. As a team, that’s probably what I was going to have to do to make the team win. As long as we started fighting, Ericsson was going to go away.
“It went red. Well, I think I can restart this thing. I have a lot less to lose than those guys.”
Then once we got back going for the final 3 laps shootout, Kanaan quickly found he was playing for 3rd.
“They did a superb job. Pato was really smart with Felix, and they almost got me. From then on I knew, two laps to go, unless they had a hiccup like Dario and Takuma, it was not going to be for us.”
Kanaan brought his No. 1 Dallara-Honda home in 3rd for his 3rd top 10 in the last 4 years here. He said that this was great month for him.
“I can’t thank enough the team, the Legion. It was a great month not just because they sponsoring a car but for the great cause, Be the One cause, trying to save veterans’ lives, trying to get the mental health word out there.
I’m proud. Sitting in the car when the red flag was there, hearing the crowd cheering for me, this place never stop amazing me. It’s a great feeling.
“I left it all out there.”
Was this the last time we’d see him now in an INDYCAR? When he thought he did the “TK Last Lap” it was in 2020. Jimmie Johnson wanted to give INDYCAR a try but needed Kanaan to do the ovals. So, the two came around for a 2-year deal together. That contract expires at seasons end.
Will he come back?
“I said it, I wanted to do it one more. Right now it’s wide open,” he says. “I have one year to try to figure that out. But, yeah, I mean, even if I say next year will be the next one, you’re going to ask me that question. I might call it quits, but I still might want to come back.
“I was very emotional on the cool-down lap, talking to the team. I know my days are numbered. I have a plan, like I said. I think next year will be probably, if I can make it happen, will be really the last one.
“As of right now, this was the last one.”
In saying that, Kanaan isn’t ready to retire yet either.
“I still race quite a bit. I’m doing 23 races this year, more than actually I did when I was in INDYCAR. I don’t feel like I’m retiring. I mean, I know I can still drive. Of course, we have this thing that people like to talk about, age and age and age.
“But I think I’m in pretty good shape. I’ll keep doing it as long as the opportunity presents. Obviously to come back here, especially in the last two years with the team that I’m at, if it’s not there, I’m going to evaluate my chances. I don’t want to just be here to participate. I’ve done that plenty of times.
“So if I have one more shot, and that is for real, one more shot, we’ll give it a go.”