Kanaan to retire from IndyCar after 2023 Indy 500

Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

Kanaan to retire from IndyCar after 2023 Indy 500


Kanaan to retire from IndyCar after 2023 Indy 500


Tony Kanaan’s 25-year IndyCar career will come to an end at this year’s Indianapolis 500.

The 48-year-old, who will drive a fourth Arrow McLaren entry at the Speedway in May, announced via social media on Wednesday morning that the race will be his last in an IndyCar.

Kanaan’s final start will be his 390th in CART/IndyCar, stretching back to when he used his championship-winning 1997 Indy Lights season with Tasman Motorsports as a springboard into CART with the same team in 1998. He finished twice on the podium as a rookie – at Laguna Seca and Houston – and found his way into victory lane for the first time the following year when he beat Juan Pablo Montoya to the finish line by just 0.03s at Michigan.

That would prove to be his only CART victory, but a full-time move to IndyCar with Andretti Green Racing in 2003 paid off almost immediately when he won the second race of the season at Phoenix. It was the beginning of a fertile partnership that yielded several more wins over an eight-year span, highlighted by a successful championship run in 2004.

A three-year stint with KV between 2011 and 2013 delivered only one win, but it was one that will help define his career – the 2013 Indianapolis 500. His most recent victory came with Chip Ganassi Racing at Fontana in 2014.

One of the Brazilian’s calling cards throughout his career was his consistency: not only did he miss the podium just once in his title-winning 2004 campaign, but he also became the first IndyCar driver in modern history to complete every possible lap in a season. Years later, when he completed his final year as a full-timer with A.J. Foyt Racing in 2019, his absence from the grid for the second race of the COVID-disrupted 2020 season on the IMS road course brought to an end his record streak of 318 consecutive starts. (Coincidentally, his future Ganassi teammate Jimmie Johnson’s own record streak for consecutive NASCAR starts ended at the same track on the same weekend after he tested positive for COVID).

That part-time 2020 season with Foyt was originally meant to be Kanaan’s IndyCar swansong, which he’d dubbed the ‘Last Lap Tour’. But the idea of Kanaan’s fans having one more chance to say goodbye was derailed when the pandemic dictated that spectators be locked out of much of the season, and when the opportunity to share a ride with Johnson arose at Ganassi for 2021, Kanaan jumped at it. Johnson’s decision to go full-time in 2022 came at Kanaan’s expense, but he returned to finish a superb third at Indy in a one-off fifth CGR entry last year.

Kanaan is scheduled to formally announce his car number and sponsor for Indy later today.