Al Unser, The Only IndyCar Triple Crown Winner, Explains
Al Unser, the only driver to win the IndyCar “Triple Crown,” believes Indy 500 champion Tony Kanaan has a chance to capture the coveted $1 million “Fuzzy’s Triple Crown,” the three-race series that includes the Indy 500, Pocono Indy 400 and the MAVTV 500 at Fontana.
|Kanaan tasted the milk, now he wants to feel the $1 million|
Kanaan, the popular Brickyard winner, comes to the fast Pocono International Raceway this Sunday in hopes of recording another victory in his quest for the $1 million prize established by Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka. And Unser, the four-time Indy 500 winner, thinks Kanaan will be very competitive this Sunday in the Pocono Indy 400 fueled by Sunoco.
“Tony is capable of winning at Pocono,” said Unser, a 39-time IndyCar race winner. “He showed he is capable of winning. But there are about 10 other guys there who will be chasing him. If he can win Pocono and California (Auto Club Speedway), I’d be happy to have Tony join me as a Triple Crown winner, for sure.”
Kanaan, a past Michigan 500 winner, knows his chance to win at Pocono is very difficult too, but the personable KV Racing Technology driver was impressive in recent testing at the 2.5-mile tri-oval in the Pocono Mountains. Sunday’s Pocono 400 marks the first time since 1989 the IZOD IndyCar Series has raced at the “Tricky Triangle.”
“I have never raced at Pocono Raceway, but we know we had a good car at Indy and had a good test at Pocono last week,” Kanaan said. “Obviously I’m the only one who has a chance to win the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown, so the pressure is on. Pocono will be the third of four races I will run in the Sunoco ‘Turbo’ car and, after the success we have had in the first two – finishing on the podium at both Texas and Iowa, I really want to keep that momentum going at Pocono and hopefully do even better.”
Unser, whose family (with his brother Bobby and son Al Jr.) has captured an amazing 107 IndyCar Series races from 1965 to 1995, actually won four 500-mile races in a row with an Ontario victory in 1977 and wins in 1978 at Indy, Pocono and Ontario. Unser drove for Parnelli Jones in 1977 and Jim Hall in 1978.
“I remember the Pocono race in 1978 and we gambled by not changing tires,” Unser explained. “We took a big chance and it paid off. You never know for sure until that dang checkered flag falls who’s going to win. I got a ring that said I was the Triple Crown winner and USAC gave the team $10,000, I think… you’d have to check. But I know for sure we didn’t get a million dollars. I am positive about that!”
Unser is happy that Kanaan took the Indy 500 checkered flag this year after so many close calls.
“I think Tony’s a good racer, a real good racer,” Unser said. “I’m an old-timer and I thought he was going to be another Lloyd Ruby and just keep racing and racing at Indy and never get to drink the milk or get his photo with the Borg-Warner trophy in Victory Lane. He knew the Speedway didn’t owe him anything like the announcers said it did. He won based on his talent, his racing skills and the team’s hard work.”
Kanaan is now set in his quest for another Triple Crown win in his No. 11 Sunoco “Turbo” Chevrolet when the green flag drops this Sunday (July 7) at 12:15 p.m. EDT. The 160-lap Pocono 400 will be televised live on ABC-TV.
If Kanaan can win all three major events in 2013, Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka will present him $1 million at Fontana. If Kanaan or another driver wins two of the three big races, Fuzzy’s will present a check for $250,000 to the driver.
Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka unveiled the beautiful “Fuzzy’s Triple Crown” Trophy at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May. The sensational “Fuzzy’s Triple Crown” Trophy was designed by Jostens, a famous award manufacturer.
Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka, created by golf legend Fuzzy Zoeller, has been a popular entry into the IZOD IndyCar Series as the Official Vodka of the IZOD IndyCar Series and the primary sponsor for Ed Carpenter Racing. Carpenter, who drives the No 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet-powered car, won a 500-mile race last September at Fontana.
The previous “Triple Crown” included 500-mile races at Indianapolis, Pocono and Ontario, Calif., from 1971- 1980 and from 1981-1989 at Indy, Pocono and Michigan.