Contractually, it was the last race of 2020 for Tony Kanaan but it’s not going to be the swansong for the 45-year-old veteran if he has anything to say about it.
“I’m going to do everything possible to run all the ovals next year because this is not how I want to go out,” said Kanaan following Sunday’s 19th-place finish at World Wide Technology Raceway. “Plan B is that I’ll just put something together for the Indianapolis 500.”
The 2013 Indy 500 winner ran all six ovals for A.J. Foyt this season but it was hardly the farewell tour he envisioned because of the pandemic. There were no fans allowed at Indianapolis or Texas and limited spectators for Iowa and Madison, Ill., so the most popular driver in the IndyCar paddock couldn’t say a proper goodbye.
“I have a lot of fans to thank for all their support and that’s why 2021 is so important,” said the Brazilian who is now a Hoosier with wife Lauren and four kids. “I guess if it doesn’t happen I could be OK with it because I’ve had a great careerm but I really want to have a proper farewell.
“I mean I’m excited for what’s to come in my life but one more Indy would be special.”
Now in his 23rd year at the top of open-wheel racing in America, T.K.’s streak of consecutive starts ended at 318 this year when IndyCar went to the IMS road course on July 4th. Bryant Heating & Cooling, 7-Eleven and Big Machine Records have been loyal backers of the 2004 IndyCar champion and helped fund TK’s Last Lap. But the COVID-19 virus rocked the world and changed his plans.
“I changed my mind because I wasn’t going to get to retire in the proper way,” he said. “But my team and sponsors made other plans, so what I want doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to get it. Right now I don’t have a team or any sponsors but I’m going to get busy and start making phone calls this week.”
He gave Foyt’s team it’s best result of 2020 on Saturday with a ninth-place finish and still feels like he’s got something left at turning left. Kanaan was running eighth at Indy before a fuel miscalculation forced him into a late pit stop and he wound up 19th.
“I can still get around that place,” he said. “I just want one more crack at it.”