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Tony Kanaan Earns Lifetime Achievement Award Through 97th INDY 500 Win

For a decade, Kanaan was IndyCar’s reigning Best-Never, as in “best never to have won the Indy 500.” Sure, he’d won the championship in 2004, but make no mistake: in IndyCar, it’s all about the race that gives the series its very name. More than the Daytona 500 to NASCAR drivers, more than The Masters to golfers, more than Wimbledon to tennis players: This is the race that defines drivers; any second-place challenger isn’t even on the same lap. Caption Credit: Jay Busbee | Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Tony Kanaan Earns Lifetime Achievement Award Through 97th INDY 500 Win

It is understood that we humans are saps for happy endings – and for those who had invested their emotions in the 97th Indianapolis 500 race over the weekend, the payoff was anything but anticlimactic, even with the race ending under a full course YELLOW Flag caution.

Most of the easy money was on any one of five Andretti Autosport drivers taking the Borg-Warner Trophy inscription/sculpture prize and the lifetime of notoriety that comes with being “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” winner. In the final tally, Andretti Autosport had Columbian rookie Carlos Munoz riding P2 (voted Indy 500 Rookie of the Year), 2012 IZOD IndyCar Sreies Champion Ryan Hunter-Reay – P3, and the current 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader Marco Andretti rolling along under the YELLOW Flag at P4.

The easy money did not win but the emotional money paid off big time … if the emotional money were on a deserving previous non-winner of the event, driving for a team that had never won either the INDY 500 or a series championship – 38 year old Brazilian Tony “TK” Kanaan.

TK even had an additional emotional story about luck that presented itself just days before the race.

The Handford Device was created as a way to slow the cars down and try and improve overtaking. The strip or plate was placed on the tailing edge of the rear wing and aided in reducing downforce, increasing drag, and generating a larger wake for the drivers of cars behind to use for a slipstream. Image Credit: f1technical.net

This excerpted and edited from NBC Sports -

Kanaan: Oval racing about “playing the game” given power levels
Tony DiZinno May 27, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT

A veteran of open-wheel’s top level since 1998, Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan is well-versed on the various “styles” of racing that have occurred in ovals in either CART, IRL or IndyCar iterations.

The second year of IndyCar’s new Dallara DW12 chassis at Indianapolis once again featured a plethora of passing thanks to the “slingshot” effect created by a tow. The cars punch such a big hole in the air that drivers catch up to each other fairly easily. Passing was as prevalent on Sunday as crushed beer cans in Indy’s new “Snake pit,” Turn 3.

But for Kanaan, who raced in the CART-era “Hanford device” period, the racing now isn’t as random or affected by the aero slingshots as it was then. The device, created by aerodynamicist Mark Hanford, was used in CART from 1998 through 2002 on high-speed ovals at Michigan and California Speedways.

“I’ve driven all types of IndyCars, I would say,” Kanaan said Monday at IMS. “I drove the Champ Cars with the thousand horsepower, a lot of downforce.  Then we went to the Hanford device, which was worse than this as far as drafting.  This car has a little bit less.”

The Dallara DW12’s powerplants have only 550 horsepower for ovals. What that has done is altered the racing, but away from the scary “pack racing” that plagued the IRL era, and made it about positioning compared to the CART days when cars could come from nearly a second back to pass [at will]  someone in one straightaway.

Kanaan would know, given his first major open-wheel win was a 500-mile CART race at Michigan in 1999, and he barely held off Juan Montoya after the Colombian hauled him in thanks to a monster tow.

“My most fun years were the years that we had the big horsepower cars and you just had to go flat out; it was pure racing speed,” Kanaan admitted. “You had the faster car, you’re going to take off and win this thing because you had a chance to lap the field.

“That’s not going to happen nowadays. Now you play the game we played yesterday.  You feel it out, what kind of car you have during the race, and you position yourself to win.”

Greater horsepower is a near universal desire of the field of drivers, but for now, Kanaan and others are playing with the resources at their disposal.

“So I would rather have more horsepower and do that.  But nowadays with the cost, it’s quite impossible for that to happen.”
[Reference Here]

TK drove the Hydroxycut KV Racing Technology-SH Racing (KVRT) prepared Chevrolet-powered second-year Dallara DW12 co-owned by Jimmy Vasser, Kevin Kalkhoven and Imran Safiulla.

KV Racing Technology team leader/co-owner Jimmy Vasser knows what it is to be a race car driver w/o INDY 500 recognition. He now has it as a team owner and joins a very exclusive group of drivers who turned to being a team owner to have this kind of success. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

“I never won this race as a driver and couldn’t seem to do so, so I had to hire a driver to do it,” said on-track team owner Jimmy Vasser in a post race interview. “Tony is the consummate professional and he’s been a long time coming here. Starting a year ago, we decided to focus on Indy by taking a chassis and putting it aside. A lot of credit goes to the boys, who have worked very hard over the winter. Tony was right, ‘the stars started lining up for us,’ and we didn’t really get a race set-up until last Sunday [one week before the race] with two hours to go and within 45 minutes, we hit on it. We knew we had the right guy and the right set-up for the race.”

While the race ended under a full course YELLOW Flag caution, everyone invested in the event were treated to a highly competitive, record-setting run for the first 197 laps.

Tony Kanaan celebrates with winners milk in front of team owner Jimmy Vasser (clinched-fists, arms raised) after winning the Indianapolis 500. The American Dairy Association released a milk preference poll for all 33 drivers in this year’s race. Sixteen of them are opting for 2 percent, eight are going for whole, four of them chose skim milk, and five couldn’t care less … so long as they get to drink it. TK signed up for a quart of 2 percent! Image Credit: IndyCar.com

Some numbers of note following the 97th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, including the top three positions at 20-lap intervals (ht: IndyCar.com):

Lap 20 — Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti (-.0077 of a second), Ed Carpenter (-.3487)
Lap 40 — Ed Carpenter (under caution), Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay
Lap 60 — Ryan Hunter-Reay (under caution), Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter
Lap 80 — Will Power, Tony Kanaan (-.3984), Ryan Hunter-Reay (-.6241)
Lap 100 — AJ Allmendinger, Tony Kanaan (-.0473), Ryan Hunter-Reay (-.4544)
Lap 120 — Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti (-.1399), Ryan Hunter-Reay (-.3720)
Lap 140 — AJ Allmendinger, Ryan Hunter-Reay (-.1390), Marco Andretti (-.3408)
Lap 160 — Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti (-.1167), AJ Allmendinger (-.4829)
Lap 180 — Carlos Munoz, Ryan Hunter-Reay (-.2866), Helio Castroneves (-.9251)
Lap 200 –Tony Kanaan (under caution), Carlos Munoz, Ryan Hunter-Reay

68 — Race-record lead changes, breaking 34 in 2012.

14 — Race-record different lap leaders — a third of the field — breaking 12 in 1993.

27 — Race-record cars running at the finish, breaking 26 in 1911.

133 — Consecutive green flag laps (from Lap 61 through Lap 193), the longest green flag period in Indianapolis 500 history since caution flag laps were recorded beginning in 1976.

21 — Caution flag laps, the fewest in an Indianapolis 500 that went the full distance since caution flag laps were recorded beginning in 1976. The 1976 race also had just 21 caution-flag laps, but that race ended after 102 laps because if rain.

187.433 — Average speed in miles per hour, a race record. Arie Luyendyk held the record of 185.981 mph since 1990. It was only the fourth time the race record has been broken.

13 — Positions gained by Simon Pagenaud, who finished P8 from P21, the most in the field.

6 — Drivers who led their first laps in the Indianapolis 500.

9 — Indy 500s led by Tony Kanaan in his 12 starts.

62 — Temperature in Fahrenheit at the green flag, tying the 1930 race for the third-coldest in the race’s history.

226.940 — Fastest overall lap in miles per hour by Justin Wilson (the highest placing Honda-powered DW12 at P5) on Lap 185.

223.651 — Fastest lap in miles per hour by a race leader, Carlos Munoz, on Lap 184.

168 — 2013 series championship points for Marco Andretti after five races. Takuma Sato is 11 points behind.

226.176 — Field qualifying average in miles per hour. It’s the fourth-fastest field in Indianapolis 500 history, exceeded only in 1995, 1996 and 2002. The 2002 field averaged 228.648 mph, the fastest in history.

228.762 — Four-lap average speed by pole winner Ed Carpenter, the fastest since 2006 by Sam Hornish Jr.

Favorite post race Tweet:

E.M.H @elmondohummus
Yes This! No gimmicks in Indycar. RT @TonyJWriter: Oh, and hey, screw green-white-checker finishes. #Indy500orBust #IndyCar #dw12

Longtime American open-wheel writer, SpeedTV’s Marshall Pruett Predicted: He’s come close before and has, in my estimation, another legitimate shot at winning this year. The most popular driver in the field without his likeness on the BorgWarner trophy will likely put on more displays of bravery and miraculous passes—but can his team get his No. 11 car just right for the sprint to the finish? That’s the only thing I see holding TK back from Victory Lane.

Well, they did, Marshall!

Results – 200 laps:

Pos  Driver               Team/Engine        Time/Gap

1.  Tony Kanaan          KVRT/Chevy
2.  Carlos Munoz         Andretti/Chevy     + 0.1159
3.  Ryan Hunter-Reay     Andretti/Chevy     + 0.2480
4.  Marco Andretti       Andretti/Chevy     + 0.3634
5.  Justin Wilson        Coyne/Honda        + 0.8138

6.  Helio Castroneves    Penske/Chevy       + 3.0086
7.  AJ Allmendinger      Penske/Chevy       + 4.0107
8.  Simon Pagenaud       Schmidt/Honda      + 4.2609
9.  Charlie Kimball      Ganassi/Honda      + 5.6864
10.  Ed Carpenter         Carpenter/Chevy    + 6.8425

11.  Oriol Servia         Panther DRR/Chevy  + 7.8633
12.  Ryan Briscoe         Ganassi/Honda      + 8.9216
13.  Takuma Sato          Foyt/Honda         + 10.2602
14.  Scott Dixon          Ganassi/Honda      + 11.3858

15.  Ana Beatriz          Coyne/Honda        + 12.2657
16.  Tristan Vautier      Schmidt/Honda      + 15.3045
17.  Simona De Silvestro  KVRT/Chevy           + 15.7201
18.  EJ Viso              Andretti/Chevy     + 17.8056
19.  Will Power           Penske/Chevy       + 22.5403

20.  James Jakes          Rahal/Honda        + 1 lap
21.  James Hinchcliffe    Andretti/Chevy     + 1 lap
22.  Conor Daly           Foyt/Honda         + 2 laps
23.  Dario Franchitti     Ganassi/Honda      + 3 laps*
24.  Alex Tagliani        Herta/Honda        + 4 laps
25.  Graham Rahal         Rahal/Honda        + 7 laps*

26.  Katherine Legge      Schmidt/Honda      + 7 laps
27.  Townsend Bell        Panther/Chevy      + 8 laps
28.  Josef Newgarden      Fisher/Honda       + 9 laps

* Not running at finish

Retirements

Sebastien Bourdais   Dragon/Chevy       178 laps
Pippa Mann           Coyne/Honda        46 laps
Buddy Lazier         Lazier/Chevy       44 laps
Sebastian Saavedra   Dragon/Chevy       34 laps
JR Hildebrand        Panther/Chevy      3 laps
(ht: autosport.com)

As Tony was overheard to say during the ceremony at race’s end, “This is it … man, I made it. Finally they’re going to put my ugly face on this [Borg-Warner] trophy.” This inscription and facial sculpture will become a well earned award for a lifetime of achievements.

… notes from The EDJE

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