IndyCar: Tony Kanaan’s new deal not just for one year

Tony Kanaan, Chip Ganassi Racing, IndyCar - Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Tony Kanaan, Chip Ganassi Racing, IndyCar - Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

Tony Kanaan’s new deal with Chip Ganassi Racing’s IndyCar team is a multi-year deal, not just a one-year deal for the 2021 season.

Chip Ganassi Racing announced on Monday that Tony Kanaan, who competed full-time for the team from the 2014 IndyCar season through the 2017 season, is set to return to the team in the 2021 season.

The 2004 series champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner is set to drive the #48 Honda in the four oval races on the 17-race schedule.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is set to drive the car in the 13 road and street course races on the schedule.

The 2021 schedule includes oval races at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 1 and Sunday, May 2, Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 30 and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway on Saturday, August 21.

But the 45-year-old Brazilian’s deal for the 2021 IndyCar season is not just a one-year deal.

The driver whose 2020 season as an ovals-only driver at A.J. Foyt Enterprises was initially dubbed as his “Last Lap” has signed a two-year deal that includes the 2022 season as well, providing him a cushion for if the 2021 season does not end up being a normal season.

“Never in a million years did I thought I would come back for two more times, which became a pleasant surprise because then I give myself another caution that if it’s not sort of a normal year next year then I have hopefully for sure a normal year in 2022,” Kanaan said Monday afternoon in a press conference.

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“To be honest, come back, having an opportunity like this in the last two years of my career, it’s something that I’m not taking for granted. I mean, I talked to Chip last night, and we have one goal. It’s to make this team win the 500. Chip just told me, I added another big chance to do so with you, and that’s my role, and that’s what I’m here for.”

Kanaan, whose record streak of 318 consecutive starts was brought to an end in 2020, recorded two top 10 finishes in six races in his first season as an ovals-only driver this past season. He finished in 10th place at Texas Motor Speedway and ninth in the first of two races at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

He just missed the top 10 in the second of two races at Iowa Speedway after being passed for 10th place on the final lap by Marco Andretti. He finished in 19th in the Indy 500 after working his way to the top 10 but fading back late.

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Kanaan’s most recent win came at Auto Club Speedway in 2014, and his most recent podium finish was a third place finish which came at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in 2019.