AR1 Talks with Tony Kanaan

Tony Kanaan

Earlier today, 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner and 2004 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan took a few minutes to speak with AutoRacing1's Brian Carroccio. Normally, the pilot of the #10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, Kanaan will once moonlight this weekend the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Along with Scott Dixon, Kyle Larson, and Jamie McMurray, Kanaan will co-drive the #02 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Target Ford EcoBoost Riley DP.

Amongst the topics Brian discussed with Tony were last year's Rolex, the team's chances this weekend, TK's 2014 season, his form on short ovals, aero kits, and his favorite era of Indianapolis 500 car design.


The 2014 Rolex saw Kanaan's debut with Chip Ganassi Racing and the Ford EcoBoost engine

BC: Being the 2nd year of the new Ford EcoBoost engine, and your second year with Ganassi, do you like your chances to win this year a little better? (Last year, the #02 Ganassi Ford EcoBoost finished 15th 28 laps down. The sister #01 car was 43rd.)

TK: For sure! Last year was a big challenge for the whole team developing an engine that was an entirely new concept in racing. And we were concerned after the Roar…I started joking that here 'I've been watching Chip dominate all these years, and the year I join the team they have a development engine.'

But this team is always in contention here. And for sure, I really like our chances this year.

BC: I noticed last year you seemed to be the guy on the graveyard shift. You did a really long stint in the middle of the night, from about 2:15 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. I've always wondered, how do teams decide that?

TK: We send out the guys with experience that time of night. That's the time bad stuff happens, and last year Dixie (Dixon) and I were the guys on the team with the most experience.

Kanaan leads last year's Pocono 500

BC: Last year in IndyCar, you seemed to take a real step forward from about Pocono on. Was there anything in particular?

TK: Not really, it was a combination of things. We started the year with some technical issues that had carried over from the year before and sort of went the wrong direction. But from Pocono on, Dixon and I were first and second in points.

(You might remember TK had some near misses at Pocono and Iowa on consecutive weekends last year before closing out the season with a win at Fontana. Over the last seven races, Kanaan finished on the podium five times).

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]BC: In 2015, the series will introduce aero kits. Do you think the kits will make a significant difference in the racing?

TK: It's hard to tell. The answer is I really don't know. I hope we can keep the same level of competition. For the fans who would like to see the cars look different I hope the aero kits do that.

If you want my opinion: do we really need them? What was the reason to make the manufacturers spend all that money? I'm not sure. But I don't make those decisions.

BC: I was looking at your record earlier. And you've won twice at Phoenix, twice at Milwaukee, once at Iowa and once at Richmond. Is there something about the short ovals you really like?

TK: When I started in 1998 and 1999, I couldn't figure them out. I was terrible, for example, at Milwaukee in Indy Lights. It became something I had to work on. So, when I was driving for Michael, I spent extra time testing, asking people's opinions, and it made me better.

Kanaan en route to victory in the 2013 Indy 500

BC: As an aside, other than the #11 Hydroxycut Chevrolet, what is your favorite Indy 500 winning car?

TK: (Laughs) Probably one of the Foyt cars, the Coyote from his last Indy 500 win. That (the 1970s) was one of my favorite eras. You had the rear wings, but a lot of the cars didn't have the front wings.

BC: Who is the tough driver you've ever raced against?

TK: It's hard to pick one person. But I would say myself, because you could be your own worst enemy.

AR1 thanks TK for taking a few minutes to speak with us. And we wish him the best of luck in this week's Rolex 24.

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