Kanaan to compete in 'Prelude' again
Tony Kanaan will compete for the second consecutive year in the Prelude to the Dream on June 8 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
Kanaan, the 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion, will join other stars from different motorsports disciplines in the event that benefits children's hospitals. It will be broadcast on HBO Pay-Per-View.
“I’m thrilled to be back in the Prelude to the Dream,” Kanaan said. “It’s an amazing lineup of drivers and we’re all competing for such a good cause. It’s very rare for me to get a chance to drive something other than my GEICO/KV Racing Technology-Lotus and to not have to race with points in mind. I’m not saying I’m going to do anything crazy, because the goal is to help my team win, but I’m definitely going to have some fun.”
Kanaan was the proverbial fish out of water in last year’s Prelude, as the 2,300-pound dirt Late Model stock car he drove for the first time was a far different machine from the 1,600-pound IndyCar. Nonetheless, Kanaan proved adept at turning right to go left around Eldora’s half-mile clay oval.
“That was the only time I drove that kind of car, and the next time will be the night of the race,” Kanaan said. “By far, it was the craziest thing I had ever done. I had a lot of fun. I can’t describe it. I definitely put myself in a very difficult spot, not testing and never being on dirt in my life. In 35 years, I’d never driven a car like that or on a surface like that.
“But I enjoyed it a lot, and now that I’ve done it I’ve heard that there are other IZOD IndyCar drivers that want to do it. I’m glad that Tony (Stewart) and everybody at Eldora showed me the preference of racing in the Prelude again. I can’t wait.”
The learning curve was steep for Kanaan, but with a little help from other Prelude participants, notably event founder Stewart, Kanaan was slinging his dirt Late Model around Eldora’s high banks with no fear.
“The biggest thing I learned is that we think our racetrack changes a lot,' he said. "This is completely another world. I can drive with the brakes and the throttle at the same time, which I can’t do in my (Indy) car,” Kanaan said. “Tony was very helpful, and Jeff Gordon came over and we had some interaction because he had gone to Brazil for our go-kart race a couple of years ago. Kyle Busch also came over and tried to help me. The thing is, their experience in those cars is tremendous, but those three guys definitely came around and gave me as many tips as they could.”
That driver-to-driver interaction is one of many reasons why Kanaan is making a return to the Prelude.
“A lot of the drivers that go there I’ve watched for a long time, so racing against those guys and Tony is awesome. The way the people welcomed me was awesome,” Kanaan said. “You know, people try to make this big rivalry between NASCAR and IndyCar, but it doesn’t exist at all. They are two completely different types of series. The majority of fans at this event are NASCAR fans, and when I went out to get introduced, I felt very right at home. They gave me a very warm welcome. That’s something I enjoyed a lot.”
So, what does Kanaan want to get out of this year’s Prelude?
“To have fun. That’s all of my expectations. We can get very competitive, but the biggest and most important part is to have fun and actually have the fans have fun and raise a lot of money for charity, because that’s why we’re there.”
Visit www.preludetothedream.org for more information.