The RACER.com Guest Mailbag with Tony Kanaan

Image by Cantrell/Motorsport Images

The RACER.com Guest Mailbag with Tony Kanaan

Insights & Analysis

The RACER.com Guest Mailbag with Tony Kanaan

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Q: Tudo Bem Tony!

Regarding your longtime friend Rubens Barrichello, to what would you contribute the results in his single tough IndyCar season with KV? The competition/driver talent in the season, or KV’s inability to field a competitive entry for Rubinho?

Obrigado,

Trevor Bohay, Kamloops, BC Canada

TK: I think we had the year we were supposed to have, but Rubens’ didn’t know any of the tracks and the limited test schedule jeopardized his season a bit. In my opinion he did really well, but he needed another year to show his potential.

Q: Tony, congratulations on a great career and hoping we get back to racing soon and see you on the podium. 

Greg Moore passed at Fontana in 1999. I’m not sure how close you were with him, but do you know if F1 was on his radar at that time or was he planning to stay in CART? Being a Canadian I’ve read several books about Greg but never really got a handle on what his future aspirations were. Certainly his signing with Penske was a milestone for him, but would Roger have signed him knowing he possibly wanted to go to F1.

Thanks
Gary, Anza, CA

TK: Well, I think that growing up every open-wheel driver at least thinks about going to F1, but Greg was really committed to IndyCar at that time. With the Penske deal done he was 100% focused in staying here.

Q: My question is, what is it like to drive around Indy? The oval looks like it’s fast but narrow and with very little passing opportunities, but how difficult is it to navigate around the track? What’s the road course like, too?  

Thanks for your time and thanks for giving it your all during your remarkable IndyCar career. I hope you, your family and everyone at A.J. Foyt are staying healthy and safe during this time.

Brandon Karsten

TK: Sure you’ve never driven there? You said it all! It’s one of the most difficult tracks to put four laps together for qualifying. Such a challenging track. The road course is fun.

Q: How many times have you made your kids watch the 2013 Indy 500? For that matter, how many times have you watched it?

Ryan Ricketts

TK: I’ve watched it countless times. The kids are not interested that much in it… Just the final couple of laps.

Barrichello adapted quickly to some aspects of IndyCar racing, but Kanaan thinks his compatriot needed another season to show what he could do on the track. Image by Levitt/Motorsport Images

Q: If you could race a past driver one-on-one, with both of you in your primes, who would be the other driver, what type of racing/car, and what course? If you could have first-class equipment and crew, which one racing series would you most like to try: NASCAR, Off-Road, NHRA drag racing, or World of Outlaws?

Brad from Powder Springs

TK: I’d take A.J. at IMS, but in the current car to give me an edge J. As for the second question: NASCAR.

Q: How much does momentum affect you within a race, a season, or even a career? I just re-watched the 2019 and Rossi turned what should have been a real momentum-stopping bad pit stop into a determination to charge forward, but there are also races where you see someone have a slow stop or something and they don’t race as well and are off the pace.

You also see seasons where it just seems a driver can’t get any momentum and will go from fighting for the championship one year to fighting to be in the top 10 or 15 the next.

Finally, I wonder if a change in momentum can have an affect on an entire career. Could Marco Andretti or J.R. Hildebrand have had totally different careers if the last laps of their first Indy 500s hadn’t gone south? Would AJ Allmendinger have been an Indy legend if he had stuck with his amazing first few races in IndyCar instead of going to NASCAR? I’m sure there’s tons of other examples, but I never know if things like that are down to overall skill and career path, or can big moments that take away momentum and have a lasting affect on a career?

Max Camposano, Menlo Park, California

TK: Oh, momentum is everything! Psychologically it helps a whole lot, gives you confidence. It keeps boosting you up, you know. You win one, have a good race after that, and another. It makes you keep going.

Q: There were rumors a few years ago linking you to a move to NASCAR’s Xfinity Series with Gibbs. How close did that come to actually happening? And I know it’s impossible to say how you think might have played out if the deal had come together, but I’m going to ask anyway!

Congratulations on a great career, can’t wait to see you back in a car.

Stephen from Orlando

TK: We had a meeting, that was it. I still had unfinished business in IndyCar, so I never really pushed for it.

Q: Thank you, Tony, for being so accessible to the fans. I was at Michigan International Speedway with my five-year-old daughter and three-year-old son in August 2007 the day before your victory. During your practice session before qualifying, with young children, we had to stand farther from your pit area than the other fans (behind a yellow line). My kids waited patiently for your practice to end so that we may be able to meet you, but were skeptical since we were separated by the adult fans. After signing a few autographs, you spotted us and made a point to come over to my kids and sign an autograph for us. It still hangs framed on the wall of my son’s room. You made a lasting impression! My question: what is your favorite track to drive and why? If it happens to be the IMS oval, what is your second favorite track, and why?

Andy Gerhart, Michigan

TK: I try to make time to all the fans. It’s important, you know. I’m glad I made a lasting impression… Sometimes you’re having a bad day, sometimes you are late for a meeting or a sponsor activation, but the fans don’t know that. Those few moments that the fan spends with their favorite driver might be the only time they’ll get a chance to get that picture or an autograph, so I do my best to do it.

And IMS for sure, second is Road America.

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