Kanaan enjoying his celebrity status

The 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner, Tony Kanaan, spent the day relishing his first Borg Warner trophy.

Kanaan enjoying his celebrity status

Indianapolis, Ind. – Tony Kanaan returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the morning after his compelling victory in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500. Since taking the checkered flag, Kanaan has been absorbed by interviews with media outlets around the world and interviews and appearances will continue for the next few days.

Also, he received many calls from well-wishers along with an even larger number of congratulatory emails. Calls that stood out from the rest were one from his six-year old son and a very emotional call from Rubens Barrichello, plus calls from Bobby and Graham Rahal and Roger Penske.

There are many traditions associated with winning the Indianapolis 500 and one of them involves the day after which starts with a lengthy photo session involving the team and sponsors that takes place at the Yard of Bricks. Thereafter, more television and print interviews take place, and the day ends with a banquet featuring testimonials and distribution of prize money. For the victory, Kanaan and his KV Technology team received a check for $2.3 million.

Race winner Tony Kanaan, KV Racing Technology Chevrolet celebrates
Race winner Tony Kanaan, KV Racing Technology Chevrolet celebrates

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

Kanaan awakened this morning wondering whether he was dreaming that he had won the 500 but it didn’t take him long for reality to set in. “This is such a big race, and it boosts your confidence a lot to win it,” he said. “And it goes to show you that old guys, such as Dario (Franchitti) and me, can still win.”

Addressing the intensely competitive event, Kanaan said that he felt he had a winning car from the drop of the green flag, but the non-stop action was nerve-wracking. “No one wanted to lead,” he said. “It is amazing in a 500-mile race, and everyone was waiting for the other one to lead. It was such a penalty to be up front. I made that mistake early-on and I had to pit two laps early. But when you are driving slowly, it becomes more dangerous as people are lifting more and at different places. It did give some of the rookies a chance to lead and they then had to pit early. It was a tense race that went by so fast.”

Kanaan liked it that no one had picked him to win, so he could practice and race without being in the spotlight.

Had the race stayed under the green flag until the end Kanaan thought it would have been a wild outcome. “It was going to be a crazy finish,” he noted. “I think at the end of the race without any disrespect to Carlos Munoz, I think experience was going to make it a race among Marco (Andretti), Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and me, and that’s what I was getting ready for. It wasn’t that Carlos didn’t have the car, but when it was time to go, we can do things that he wasn’t expecting us to do. My gut feeling was that Marco had the best chance for winning, but it was wide open. And I think the lead would have changed two or three times on the last lap.”

Concerning the yellow-flag finish, he said, “I think we should consider a green-white-checkered flag finish, but I’m all about the tradition of this place, and I’m not saying this because I won under the yellow because I have lost plenty of them under the yellow. I‘m kind of in the middle about making a decision like that, but I think you should finish under the green.”

Going into this season, Kanaan and his team didn’t know whether they could run a full season, which is why they put major emphasis on the Indianapolis 500 – a business plan that worked out well. “My heart is that I built the team where I’m at,” he noted.

He went on to say that in recent years he had been working hard outside the car seeking sponsorship to keep his career on track, and he hopes Sunday’s victory may serve as a catalyst to bring in more sponsorship monies. “I would love to have less pressure on that side, so I can concentrate on the driving side. I am confident that with this win we can build something solid for the upcoming years.

At 38, Kanaan has had a brilliant career capped off with the Indianapolis 500 victory, but he pledges not to slowdown and to continue racing hard for the next few years. In doing so, his popularity will continue to grow and his contributions to the sport will multiply.

Not only is Kanaan ecstatic to have won the Indianapolis 500, he’s equally excited to have his likeness carved into the Borg-Warner trophy alongside those of his best friends, the late Dan Wheldon and Franchitti.

Tony Kanaan is a champion’s champion, and a true credit to the IZOD IndyCar Series.

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