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May 28, 2013 - 11:45 AM
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Kanaan Now an Indy 500 Champion
Posted by: BGerhart on May 28, 2013 - 06:35 AM
Feature Articles
Kanaan Now an Indy 500 Champion

Tony Kanaan celebrates 2013 Indianapolis 500 win.
Credit: Paul Hurley

By Brad Gerhart

The only thing ugly about this year's instalment of the Indianapolis 500 would be the winner's face on the Borg-Warner Trophy, well according to Tony Kanaan that is.

“I'm going to put my ugly face on that trophy,” Kanaan said after he climbed out of the cockpit of his No. 11 Hydroxycut Chevrolet in victory lane.

This year's race saw an incredible amount of action, especially up front with the first four positions. Each and every lap there seemed to be a change for the lead and each time no one could protect that lead for a single lap or two. Yes, 68 times the lead changed throughout the 200 lap race around the most famous race track in the entire world, 68 times.

With minimal caution periods the average speed of the 500 mile event, 187.433 miles per hour. With seven to go Graham Rahal crashed and the race looked to be a shootout to the end, with the top-seven all in contention for a shot at glory.


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Kanaan could be heard over his KV Racing radio saying, “it's going to be all or nothing.” A bold statement for a driver who came so close to winning many different times over the past decade only to falter and bring home one second place finish (in 2004). This year with his lucky medallion and the inspiration of long time friend (and gold medal winner) Alex Zanardi in his pits, Tony Kanaan would not be denied this time around.

The green flag waved with five to go and Kanaan made the pass for the lead at the start/finish line to signal a finish for the ages. However, with the entire crowd on its feet Dario Franchitti lost control of his Target car and ran into the wall to bring out the final yellow of the day. “I knew I had to get the lead on the restart because it could be a yellow, which happened to me plenty of times here, and it did,” Kanaan said. “How life is funny. The yellow was my best friend.” He also knew that being the leader on a late restart would not be the best position to be in with each and every driver clawing at the wheel to get that final jump on a restart. This time around Kanaan played his cards perfectly. “I was in the perfect place, exactly where I want to be, right behind the leader, with three to go because I knew a potential yellow could happen,” he said. “It happened. I guess it was right.”

Even under yellow, Kanaan remained focus and determined to not get overexcited and make any mistakes. He stayed close to the pace car and when the row of bricks finally came into view, along with the checkered flag, he knew he was finally, finally an Indianapolis 500 champion. Something in which no one will ever be able to take away from him. “It's nice. I think wins are important, trophies are really nice, but what I'm going to take forever, it's definitely this,” said Kanaan.

The past nightmares of Indy turned into a dream victory for the Brazilian. As an open wheel driver in North America or even around the world, there's no bigger race than the Indy 500, none. After pure heartbreak year after year, Tony Kanaan got to taste the milk and kiss the famous bricks to complete his racing legacy. Sunday was just meant to be for Kanaan, he simply had it in him all day long.

“I got to the front anytime I wanted to. That proved to me, if I put myself in the right position, everything else fell through, I was going to win,” he said. “That's what happened.”

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