Kanaan: ‘I Had a Great Career’

Tony Kanaan admits that if he hadn’t finished third in the 2022 Indianapolis 500, he probably wouldn’t be talking about his final race coming up in May. Kanaan announced yesterday that the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 would be his final IndyCar race. The Brazilian driver has driven in Indycar/Champ Car since 1998.

How does a driver know it’s time to step aside?

“You don’t,” Kanaan said. “You’re never ready for this.
But you got to weigh your options. I went from a full-time
to a part-time. You’re 48. You had a great career. As
much as you don’t want to go, it’s there. If you’re smart,
you make the right decisions at the right time.”

Kanaan in the 500 has a win in 2013, a pole, nine top five finishes and 12 top 10s. In 2011 he started 33rd and passed 10 cars by the time the field reached the backstretch at the start. Only a caution flag prevented him from picking off a couple more cars. He led in each of his first seven 500s.

Kanaan after his popular win in 2013

He has 17 wins in Indycar racing14 poles, and 79 podiums. In winning the championship in 2004, Kanaan completed every lap of the season.

Kanaan and his Arrow McLaren team also announced a sponsor, SmartStop, a storage company, and the car number for Kanaan’s last ride, 66. The number has significance for the team and driver. His 318 consecutive starts is still the record.

“No. 66. Bruce McLaren and McLaren won their first race in 1966 Mark Donohue was here in ’72. My first go-kart number was No. 6. I picked that. My entire go-kart career,
I won five championships with that number. One of the races that I couldn’t race the 6, I raced 66. When Zak told me the story, the number, it’s just perfect.
That’s what we’re banking on,” Kanaan explained.

Kanaan has never been one to hide his feelings. Asked about how emotional Race Day will be, he said, “End of May, I think it’s going to get more difficult from now
on. I’m at peace in my decision. I have a great team
behind me. I think I had a great career. I have a really
good shot of winning this thing. If I win, might be sitting
here again next year. You never know.”

How will he fill his time after May?

“I’m probably going to come and bug Mark Miles and his team and Jay Frye here. I live five, ten minutes from here. Anything I can do? Can I warm the Corvette up? The Corvette needs a ride. Hey, Doug…”

Would he consider team ownership? It doesn’t sound likely.

“I actually own an eSports team that gives
me the feeling I don’t know if I really want to own a real
team ever. You never know. I mean, I love racing. I love challenges.
If the opportunity presents, 100%. I know for a fact my wife
will not let me spend any of my money, our money – her money, sorry – in a race team. But if the opportunity presents, I’ll consider. Anything that is involved in racing and INDYCAR, I’ll be willing to consider, for sure.”