INDIANAPOLIS — After 25 years of open-wheel racing, Tony Kanaan says the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 will be his last race.
Kanaan, who is 48, will race one final time in the NTT IndyCar Series at the 500 in a one-off deal with Arrow McLaren SP. Kanaan had previously announced his retirement in 2020, but decided to return after what was then his final Indy 500 was spoiled by the COVID pandemic.
Kanaan would then return not just in 2021 but in 2022 as well with Chip Ganassi Racing. Ahead of his final IndyCar race, Kanaan said now is as good a time as any to retire.
“It was kind of obvious,” Kanaan jokingly said Wednesday. “People kept saying I’m bald, I’m old. But, you’re never ready for this. You have to weigh your options. You’re 48, you’ve had a great career, as much as you don’t want to go, if you are smart you make the right decisions at the right time.”
Since 1998, Kanaan has started 389 races in North American open-wheel racing. He got his start in the CART World Series before making the jump to the then Indy Racing League in 2002 in his rookie year at the Indianapolis 500.
Two years later, Kanaan won his first and only IndyCar Series championship and eventually would win the Indianapolis 500 in 2013. In all Kanaan would go on to win 16 races throughout his career.
Kanaan has started in every Indianapolis 500 since 2002 with an average finish of 13th. That includes 12 finishes inside the Top 10. Last year Tony Kanaan qualified sixth and finished third as the top finishing part-time driver in the race.
For his final IndyCar race, Kanaan is excited to be partnering up with AMSP to pilot the #66-car.
“Number 66, I mean, Bruce McLaren and McLaren won their first race in 1966, and Mark Donohue won here (in number 66) in 1972. My first go-kart number was #6,” Kanaan said.
Kanaan said that this is also no nostalgia tour and that he is here to try and win the race one final time.
“I have a chance. I have a team that was second and fourth last year,” he said of AMSP. “I have a boss (Zak Brown), he didn’t hire me just to do me a favor to retire in a good car. The mindset is still there. I’m still waking up at 4:30 in the morning and working out as hard as I can.”
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