INDIANAPOLIS – Tony Kanaan said on Monday that he would be happy just to get a top 10 finish in this weekend’s 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500. See, after having a very good car in last year’s race, he said that the pace just wasn’t there in his No. 14 Chevrolet this time around.
“You know, this year has been a very difficult year for us,” said Kanaan on Monday afternoon of race week. “We had a very rough start. I don’t think we’re as competitive as we were last year here, unfortunately. I believe a lot of the teams actually stepped up. I mean, last year we were in the top eight every day, and in the race, we led the race a few laps.
“To be honest, I would love to tell you yes. I think anything can happen, but I don’t feel like we’re there. We will be working on it, but this still can be our best race this year. Like I said, we’ve been fighting a lot of demons and trying to get going towards the right direction, and I think — I mean, look at Simon (Pagenaud). I think he’s one that I always look up for, the first couple races he’s been up, and he’s been really good, and then all of a sudden you don’t know what — it’s like, what’s going on.
“But I haven’t done anything different. For us, the importance of having a good race here, it’s high. I think we had all the focus over the winter as far as the team, we focused on the ovals, especially here. My boss (AJ Foyt) is like Simon’s boss (Roger Penske). That’s all he cares is about this place. Everything else comes second. I think we still have a pretty good possibility to have a good result. Am I going to have as good a car as I had last year? I don’t think so, but it is what it is. Sometimes that’s the way it goes.”
On Friday though, he was signing a different tune. Kanaan, topped the speed charts on Carb Day and said then that this was his best shot of a win since 2013. So, what changed?
He was animated in what he wanted and his AJ Foyt Racing crew was able to give it to him. Two changes to his car got it to where he wanted it.
On race day, Kanaan steadily was moving up before running a mid race stint too long and having to pit under caution due to him running out of fuel. One problem though – the pits were closed.
That’s an automatic penalty which dropped him to outside the top 20 and one lap down. Even for that wild late race accident with 23 laps-to-go, Kanaan was being scored in 13th, one lap down. Luckily for him though, the lapped cars ahead of the race leader Alexander Rossi got the wave around. The Brazilian was back on the lead lap.
He’d capitalize and get that top 10 that he would have been happy for on Monday for his best result of 2019.
“It’s a typical day that you have to prove that you can’t give up,” said Kanaan. “We never gave up. We had a little bit of a mishap; we ran out of fuel under the yellow. We were too close to pit, and it went yellow and they closed the pits. That stuff happens, right? You can’t predict all the yellows. We got lucky, finally: We got our lap back, and I got to do my magic at the end, which I enjoyed the most. You know, we have so many ABC Supply employees and Bryant employees here. Actually between them, we had more than 2,000 employees here today. I feel like even on my worst day, I can’t give up. So even when I was back there in 24th , a lap down, I still had to race. I still had to prove to them that we’re here and we’re trying. It paid off with a top-10. Is a top-10 what we want? Not really, but after the day we had, I’ll take it.”
This was Kanaan’s third top 10 finish in his last four Indy 500 starts. He finished fourth in 2016, fifth in 2017 and 25th last year. Now, he’s got his 10th career top 10 in the Indy 500.