Kanaan: Despite 2013 win, Indy 500 gets harder every year (VIDEO)

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Tony Kanaan is an Indianapolis 500 champion, and entering the 2014 race, that’s the one major bit of news that’s different than this time last year.

All the media events that have followed since last May 26 have cast “TK’s” elusive ‘500 victory in different spotlights.

The biggest thing about it is, it’s real, and it’s eternal.

“I feel like nobody can take it away from me,” Kanaan said during IMS media day on Thursday. “I’d run for the next 30 years here if I can. It’s a magical place. If from today until the day I retired, God knows when, if I never won here again, OK. But, in 2013, I did.”

As TK goes for the encore in 2014, there’s several different elements.

For one, he’s now in the classic red No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, albeit a car that’s now adorned in a special silver livery this week to commemorate the 25-year partnership between Target and the team. He switched from KV Racing Technology in the offseason.

He’s no longer directly working with longtime engineer Eric Cowdin, but is now with Chris Simmons, who guided Dario Franchitti to a pair of ‘500 wins in 2010 and 2012.

And Franchitti, Kanaan’s good friend, admitted to him last year that the older they get, the harder it gets.

“It never gets easier,” Kanaan said. “Because me and Dario, have been racing together for so long, you can kind of predict more or less will happen.

“You think it gets easier. But the older you get, the more nervous we got. Last year it’s just me and that conversation; Dario’s my best friend. I wouldn’t tell this to others. But I’m freaking nervous. I have a butterfly like my first go-kart race. I ask, ‘Does that happen?’ And he’s like, ‘Every year, it gets worse.’

“But that moment is the best feeling. You want to get in the car because the moment of anticipation disappears. Then it’s time to do your job.”

He’ll start 16th today, as he seeks back-to-back wins. No one has pulled off that feat since countryman Helio Castroneves, in 2001 and 2002.

Kanaan’s a definite favorite, and led Friday’s Carb Day practice.

“We worked really hard to make it up for our qualifying,” he said. “We have great people back in engineering and we showed it a bit this week.”

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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