INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Tony Kanaan is still getting accustomed to hearing his new title: Indianapolis 500 champion.
After dealing with so much bad luck and so many years of frustration at Indianapolis, who could blame the Brazilian driver for mistaking those words now being applied to his name?
“There’s nothing like winning at Indy, just ask Tony,” five-time Grand-Am champion Scott Pruett said during a conference call Tuesday.
“What?” Kanaan said.
“I said there’s nothing like winning at Indy, right Tony?” Pruett repeated.
“No. I mean, look at where I’m at. Look at the job I got by winning Indy,” Kanaan said.
On Thursday, for the first time, Kanaan hopped into a Grand-Am car and teamed up with Joey Hand to qualify 10th in Chip Ganassi’s No. 02 car. It’s Kanaan’s first trip back since winning the 500.
Though he’s started the last 12 Indy 500s, this will mark the first time he’s crossed the yard of bricks going from left to right and the first time he’s driven on the historic track’s much newer road course. And though he’s competed in sports cars previously, he’s never competed on Brickyard 400 weekend or in this version of racing — the Grand-Am Rolex Series.
The good news is Kanaan will have plenty of support preparing for Friday night’s race.
And if either wins, it would mark the first time any driver has won two major events in Indy history. Barrichello won the 2002 U.S. Grand Prix while driving in Formula One.