Indy 500: Tony Kanaan admits his career could’ve ended in 2013

Tony Kanaan, Indy 500, IndyCar (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Tony Kanaan, Indy 500, IndyCar (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Tony Kanaan admitted that his KV Racing Technology IndyCar team didn’t have the funding to compete past the 2013 Indy 500.

2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan is set to make his 22nd and final — and yes, this time, he really means it — Indy 500 start this weekend, doing so behind the wheel of the No. 66 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet as a teammate to full-time drivers Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist, and Alexander Rossi.

Nobody has led the Indy 500 on more occasions than the 48-year-old Brazilian. On only six of 21 previous occasions did he not spend time at the front.

While he admits there are a few Indy 500s that “got away” from him, his triumph in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” could not have come at a better time.

Had Tony Kanaan not won the Indy 500 with KV Racing Technology in 2013, that very well could have been it for the fan-favorite.

“I’ll give you just a couple examples,” Kanaan told Beyond the Flag, when asked about how winning the Indy 500 truly changes one’s life, a line we hear every month of May. “Before the race in 2013, we didn’t have money to go beyond this race we didn’t have the sponsorship and we kind of knew. Nobody knew, but we did.

“And we won the race.”

He ended up finishing out the 2013 season with KV Racing Technology and competing full-time for six more seasons, four with Chip Ganassi Racing and two with A.J. Foyt Enterprises. He has competed in the Indy 500 as a part-time/one-off driver since 2020.

“Ten years later, I’m still here,” he said. “So that is probably the number one thing that changed my life, right? Apart from, you know, all the everything else that comes with the win, becoming a legend, and then so on.

“But I think that there, it’s the continuity of my career. I mean, since then, we haven’t stopped, right? We found sponsorship and the team did well; we were a very small team. I moved to Ganassi after that, and so on, so I think that is probably the best example that I can give to you.”

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Kanaan is set to make Indy 500 start number 22 on Sunday, May 28. The race is set to be broadcast live on NBC from Indianapolis Motor Speedway beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV and don’t miss any of the action!