107th Indianapolis 500 Will Be Tony Kanaan’s Final IndyCar Race As A Driver

Tony Kanaan, the most popular Indianapolis 500 driver of his era announced at 9 a.m. Eastern Time on February 15 that the 107th Indianapolis 500 will be his final IndyCar race as a driver.

The 48-year-old driver from Brazil who now lives in Indianapolis made the announced on his social media at 9 a.m. Later in the day, he will announce his car number and sponsor for his final ride in the Indy 500 in a media conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kanaan won the 2004 NTT IndyCar Series championship for what was then known as Andretti Green Racing. Always a leading contender at the Indianapolis 500, it took the popular Brazilian 12 tries before he finally won the big race in 2013 for KV Racing Technologies.

Kanaan was popular because of his demeanor and tenacious racing style. In his prime, he was like watching a Pit Bull chase after a Pork Chop, waiting to sink his teeth into the opposition.

In January 2020, Kanaan announced that would be the last time he raced in the Indianapolis 500 when he was with AJ Foyt Racing. He wanted to “do it for the fans” but a few months later, the COVID-19 pandemic kept the fans isolated and unable to attend sporting events.

The Indianapolis 500 in 2020 was moved to August 23 and was held without fans because of COVID.

Kanaan wanted to honor his fans, so he returned in 2021 as the oval track driver in the No. 48 Carvana/American Legion Honda at Chip Ganassi Racing. Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson drove that car on the street and road courses on the schedule.

Kanaan started fifth and finished in 10th in the 2021 Indianapolis 500 and proved he still had that competitive fire.

Team owner Chip Ganassi brought him back for last year’s Indianapolis in a fifth entry

for the team. Kanaan started sixth and finished third, coming very close to scoring his second career Indy 500 win finishing behind race winning teammate Marcus Ericsson and current Arrow McLaren teammate Pato O’Ward.

McLaren F1 CEO Zak Brown hired Kanaan to drive a fourth entry in this year’s Indianapolis 500, which is Kanaan’s only NTT IndyCar Series race. Just 14 days ago at IndyCar’s “Content Day” at the Palm Springs Convention Center, Kanaan spoke of the excitement he felt getting ready for 22nd Indianapolis 500 start.

“It’s a great opportunity that came up off such a great run last year,” Kanaan said. “I’m excited.

“It’s been a long winter until we got here, obviously, doing one race only you see people – Alexander Rossi’s side was in the shop, and I was in the shop a few times, and I was like, where is my car. There is no car yet because obviously there are priorities there until we get there.

“I’m really excited, and hopefully we have as good a run as we did last year.”

There was already speculation regarding Kanaan if he would have a team to compete for in 2024, especially after Arrow McLaren made a huge announcement in early January that 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson was joining the team for the 108th Indianapolis 500.

That’s a good question because Scott Dixon makes fun of me until this day,” Kanaan said on February 1. “This is the last, last, last, last lap, the very last lap, what it is. So, the answer honestly will be I think I will definitely make a decision, which is not just all up to me.

“It’s up to me if I say this is it, but if not, I think I’ll make the decision when we cross the start-finish line on that Sunday. When I win, if I win, I’ll put everybody on the spot and I’ll say, ‘I’m coming back.’ This is exactly what happened last year.

“Right now, I think the focus is this 500. Again, I don’t know if — it wasn’t a mistake, but we announced something two years ago and then a great opportunity came with Jimmie Johnson — I’m not going to put out there this is what I’m doing.

“It’s just, let it be.”

In the two weeks since making those statements, Kanaan had a chance to think things through before making the call that this will be his last ride in the Indy 500.

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