Finding 2014 funding next step for Indy 500 champ Kanaan post-Baltimore


This year’s Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan will shift from wearing his helmet to his business hat as soon as the weekend’s Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT goes in the books.

Kanaan came into KV Racing Technology – SH in an eleventh hour agreement prior to the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series, and signed a two-year contract to continue with the team through 2013 ahead of the 2012 season. Now a free agent, “TK” will move into overdrive for yet another offseason of working to find the sponsorship to stay on the grid.

“It’s always negotiations; my take on it, this is the new era,” Kanaan admitted during a media teleconference on Wednesday. “You have to put yourself out there and try to sell the product. The more sponsorship you bring, the more resources you can hire, the better things you can have for the team. For me, it’s another day in the office. People are starting to talk about all different things.”

Kanaan said he’ll use the month-long break inbetween Baltimore and Houston in October to go home to Brazil, speak with potential and some current sponsors, and work to “move things along for next year.”

While Kanaan has his options open in terms of where he could drive in 2014, he admitted the ‘500 victory was only step one in the KV building relationship with team principals Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser.

“We’re a fairly young team. I agree totally with Jimmy, we have not accomplished what we have hoped for,” Kanaan said. “Thank God we think like that because if you’re happy winning one race and having four or five podiums a year, that’s not the right mentality to go racing. We started working on the 500 in September of last year with a lot of things that we’ve done, not just in the shop, with the racecar and everything.  Obviously it paid off.  Now we look at each other and say, ‘OK, we need to work for 17 races and win a championship.’”

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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