INDIANAPOLIS – Lets face it, if one of Tony Kanaan’s Firestone tires doesn’t get a puncture and he’s not forced to hit pit road on an unscheduled stop on Lap 99, the popular Brazilian driver is likely kissing the bricks for the second time of his career. Kanaan, led 19 laps in Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500, but if not for that key moment of the race, he was in position to win.
The AJ Foyt Racing driver charged from his 10th starting spot to sixth in the early laps. By time the first pit sequence was over, he had his No. 14 Chevrolet second. Then, on Lap 63, he passed Ed Carpenter for the lead on a near mid race restart. His car was dialed in. It was that way all month.
Kanaan, was my pick to win the race in fact. He was sixth, second, second and first respectively in the final four race day practice simulations. He was on target to give Foyt their first win since Long Beach in 2013 and just their third since the 1999 Indianapolis 500.
But, when Kanaan had to pit just one lap shy of the midway mark of the race, it essentially ended his day. He’d fall down a lap and not get it back until around Lap 150. He made the most of getting that lap back, but when pressing to move up further, he found the Turn 2 wall with 11 laps-to-go. That would mar him down in the 25th place finishing position.
“Man, the Speedway, right,” said Kanaan after the race? “We had a great day going and then we had a puncture that put us behind all day long, so I was playing catch up. It was not for lack of trying, we came back from all the way from the back of the pack to the inside of the top 10. Great restarts and…oh my God. So, it wasn’t our day. I mean we have a great thing going, this team is very promising so we will leave here with our heads up. We had great pit stops, and I mean it wasn’t our day and to finish ninth or last for me it doesn’t matter. I’m not trying to make an excuse, I made a mistake trying and that for me, in my book, it’s totally fine. I’m looking forward to the future on this team.”
Credit that to that tire puncture.