One of the people that I had in mind that was overdue, but was a long shot to win was Tony Kanaan as he never won the Indianapolis 500 in 11 previous tries. Well that changed Sunday as in his 12th try Kanaan finally won the Indy 500.
To be honest I completely forgot about Kanaan and all the bad luck he has had over the years at Indy. My focus was on Marco Andretti and if he could finally overcome the Andretti driver curse, which of course he didn’t as he finished fourth. So, how unlucky has Kanaan been at Indy.
In his first race at Indy Kanaan was leading when on lap 90 he spun out due to some unnoticed oil on the race track. In 2004 Kanaan was in second place when rain came in and shortened the race by 20 laps. Then in 2007 Kanaan was leading when rain stopped the race on lap 113, but the race eventually resumed and he wound up finishing 12th.
The next two years saw Kanaan crash during the race.
Also, 2010 Kanaan crashed his car on pole day and his backup car on bump day, but he eventually qualified 33rd. Kanaan even got up as high as second place, but a fuel strategy gamble failed and he finished fourth.
If that wasn’t enough for you Kanaan was leading last year when he lost the lead on lap 194 and finished third.
It was an emotional win not only for Kanaan, but also for his team owner Jimmy Vasser. Vasser was also an Indy car driver, but he never won the race. Also, a good friend of theirs is Alex Zanardi who was also an Indy car driver, but he had his career cut short after he lost his legs in a terrible racing accident in 2001.
Zanardi before the race gave Kanaan one of gold medals from the 2012 London Paralympics and cried behind the pit wall as Kanaan took the checkered flag.
“I tell you I’m starting to think the medal really works,” said Zanardi. “It’s a dream come true to see Tony win, to see Jimmy Vasser win, my dear friend. I’m so happy, I’m so happy.”
The race saw 68 lead changes that involved 14 drivers and was so riveting that it even amazed Indy car legend Mario Andretti.
“It was a hell of a race. That’s all I can say,” Andretti said. “This is riveting competition, that’s all I can tell you. It’s just amazing. The reliability of the cars is there. The product is there. It’s unbelievable racing, the best I’ve seen in years.”
You can definitely say that again as the race came down to the very end. Kanaan sealed the Indy 500 win during restart on lap 198. Just seconds after the restart the yellow flag came out as Dario Franchitti crashed. However, even Franchitti cheered up after he saw Kanaan leading.
“When I saw who was leading, it cheered me up a little bit,” said Franchitti, last year’s winner. “He’s a very, very deserving winner.”
Kanaan’s Indy 500 win didn’t leave a dry eye in the house.