It’s Been a Great Ride for Tony Kanaan; Five Oval Races Will Close Indycar Career

Photo: Tony Kanaan at Texas Motor Speedway in 2019. Courtesy Indycar, Chris Owens

It happens to every driver in time. It’s Tony Kanaan’s turn to retire. Kanaan announced today he will run the five ovals on the NTT Indycar Series schedule to end his Indycar career.  It’s always a little sad to see champion and Indianapolis 500 winner hang it up, but I like when a driver can leave on his or her own terms.

His final race will be at World Wide Technology Raceway August 22. He finished third there in 2019.

“I have no regrets,” Kanaan told a press conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this morning.  “This place (IMS) made me.”

Kanaan has driven in 18 Indianapolis 500s, winning in 2013. He won the pole in 2005 and led in each of his first seven races. He has eight top 5s and qualified in the top 6 from 2002 through 2009 with three front row starts.

Kanaan completed every lap in the 2004 Indycar series and win the series championship. He is the first driver to complete every lap in a season. He has 17 wins and 15 poles in his career.  His best years were with Andretti Green Racing in the early 2000s. He won the 500 driving for KV Racing.

He has always been a fan favorite. He plans to be “a lot more engaged with the fans” at the races he isn’t running in 2020. Look for Kanaan at the autograph sessions at the road  and street course events as well as the ovals.

When the green flag waves at St. Pete, it will end Kanaan’s streak of 317 consecutive Indycar starts.  In a sport with such brief seasons, I find that an amazing statistic.IMG_7537

Kanaan at Laguna Seca last season. The season finale becomes his road race finale in the series. Photo: Mike Silver

Kanaan insists while he may be closing his Indycar career, but he’s not done racing.

“I don’t want anybody to think I’m retiring and I’m disappearing. First of all, I still can drive. We’ve been in talks. Five years or so in this room we started it; we’ve been in talks with IMSA and a bunch of other series. Even Formula-e, you talk about stock car in Brazil. People are like, so what are you doing, what are you doing next year, and I think this will open an opportunity for me to do — Tony Stewart is like, when are you coming back to Eldora. Now I think I can do all those things. ”

Indycar is approaching a point where several of the current big names will be closing out their careers in the next couple of seasons. We have five occasions to honor a driver who has reached the pinnacle of the sport. If you get to one of the ovals this year, make it a point to seek Kanaan out, and tell him how you appreciate what he’s done.