Tony Kanaan has reached the pinnacle of his sport. He’s won an Indianapolis 500 and an IndyCar series championship.
At 43, though, Kanaan has no interest in calling it a career. He prides himself on his fitness and relishes being the veteran of the series.
“I love IndyCar, man,” Kanaan said. “I still think I have a few years left to be competitive at the top level. I love the speed. I love the series. I love the cars. I love the race tracks that we race at.
“My heart is still in IndyCar. As long as I can race there, that’s where I’m going to be.”
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It’s no surprise that Kanaan is excited to return to Texas Motor Speedway for Saturday’s DXC Technology 600.
This is a track he’s won at in 2004 and ranks first in all-time top finishing average (5.16) in 18 career starts. Kanaan is also tied with Helio Castroneves for most top-five (11) and top-10 (15) finishes.
Of late, Kanaan has run well with four podium finishes in the last five races.
Why the success?
“It’s hard to tell. I was going to say it was the layout of the track,” Kanaan said. “Then all of a sudden they change the track [last offseason] and I’m still doing well. So I guess it’s just me and Texas.
“We have a great relationship. We love each other.”
Speaking of relationships, Kanaan is still in the early stages of finding his way to success with a new team, Waller-based A.J. Foyt Racing.
Foyt is a legendary figure at TMS and has the inaugural trophy from the first IndyCar race even though it was determined that Arie Luyendyk, Sr., not Foyt's driver Billy Boat, had won the race after the initial trophy presentation.
Kanaan gave an honest assessment of how close the team is to finding Victory Lane even though he and Foyt would like to see it sooner than later.
“We knew it was going to be a slow process,” Kanaan said. “IndyCar is such a competitive series that it’s really hard to just go in and win right away.
“I would say we could run top-10 all year long, and I think we can finish in the top-five now. To win? I think it’s going to take us another year.”
As stated, Kanaan has no intentions of hanging it up anytime soon. He is fully committed to getting Foyt back to relevancy in the sport.
This is a team that hasn’t won since Takuma Sato did it in 2013 at Long Beach.
“It’s been a big challenge for us,” Kanaan said, “but we’re working very hard at it.”
Nobody is doubting Kanaan, either. He remains one of the most physically fit drivers in the series as an avid triathlete.
It seems like only a matter of time before he returns to the top and snaps what has become a frustrating 57-race winless drought.
“He’s going to be contending. He’s always contending here,” TMS president Eddie Gossage said. “If fans have never seen Tony Kanaan race, they owe it to themselves to see him race. He’s a hard racer.
“He could’ve been a great linebacker in the NFL. That’s how good of shape he is in.”