Indianapolis 500

Tony Kanaan bids farewell to IMS in final Indy 500


INDIANAPOLIS -— There were plenty of emotions during Sunday’s 107th running of the Indianapolis 500. The joy from first-time winner Josef Newgarden, the frustration from runner-up Marcus Ericsson and others who crashed out of the race. However all that doesn’t compare to the emotions that were being felt by a man who for nearly three decades has captivated motor sports. Tony Kanaan (according to Kanaan himself) raced in his final Indy 500 on Sunday.

Hours before the race even began, there were tears from Kanaan knowing that this would be the final time he straps inside his car and races over 200 miles per hour in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”.

“I told the guys before we started, right, it was either going to be a win or anything apart from the win we were going to celebrate regardless,” Kanaan said of his final Indy 500. “I think I would do a disgrace to almost 400,000 people that were there that made me feel the way they did to say I’m sad. I had a laugh. Helio and I battling for 15th and 16th on the last lap like we’re going for the lead. It was like, who’s playing pranks with us. We both went side by side on the backstretch after the checker and we saluted with each other, and I just told him actually I dropped a tear because of that, and he said, I did, too. It was a good day for me, man. What can I say? We cried on the grid.”

Kanaan or who is better known in the motor sports world as “TK” placed 16th overall on the day. The 48 year-old Brazilian native was making his 22nd start in the 500 and has made nearly $9.5 million in earnings. TK walks away with just one win back in 2013 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“I’m grateful, relieved, happy, sad at the same time,” Kanaan said. “There are so many emotions right now. But one thing is for certain. I think I sat here three years ago and I said I’m not retiring because I don’t want to race in an empty stand, and what they did for me today puts an end of me coming back here. Because that experience right there, I don’t think I will have it ever again. This is it. And the emotions are just there. I cried 400 times. This guy came to hug me, and I made Rocket cry. I mean, that is something.”

Kanaan during the driver introductions received by far the loudest ovation from the near 400,000 fans in attendance. After the introductions that was followed by a video put together by Kanaan thanking the fans and his fellow racers for all of their support. The tribute to the IndyCar legend wasn’t done however as TK was surprised with a another video tribute put together in which his fellow competitors and drivers thanked him for all that he has done for the sport.

Newgarden even chimed in about Kanaan and what he meant to him as a racer, a mentor, and a fellow competitor.

“Well, I think Tony has been a tremendous ambassador for the sport, first and foremost “ Newgarden said. “He’s been a great Indy 500 champion, as everyone in this room knows. He’s a fan favorite for a reason. He wears his heart right on his sleeve, publicly displayed, and I think that’s why everybody loves him. He’s been a tremendous competitor. I think someone that is tough to race against, but also someone that you could go to if you needed advice or assistance. He’s pretty open minded and ready to help the young guys if needed. You’re seeing that even more so now that he’s working with younger drivers in his team. He’s been great for the sport. I’m so happy that he was still here for this final race. I’m also in the camp that doesn’t believe he’s done, like most people are. But if it is his last go, then he’s had a tremendous career, and we should all be thankful that Tony was here.”

If it is Kanaan’s last 500 and his last time strapping in, there’s little doubt the legacy that he leaves behind. For now TK wants to focus on spending time with his wife Lauren and their four kids Leonardo, Max, Deco, and Nina. No one can argue with that decision.

Thank you TK for one final ride and countless memories.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here