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.”

MRTI: Saturday Barber Notebook

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Both the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires completed their first races of the weekend on Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park.

Indy Lights saw a pair of teammates battle for the win, while a series veteran suffered first lap trouble for the second race in a row.

In Pro Mazda, things were much more straightforward, as a title contender ran away to a dominant win from the pole.

Reports on both series are below.

Indy Lights: O’Ward Withstands Herta Challenge for Race 1 Victory

Lap 1 told the tale for Indy Lights Race 1, as Colton Herta led from the pole, but Pato O’Ward was able to sneak by on the inside entering Turn 5.

O’Ward subsequently had to withstand a race-long challenge from Herta, who kept the gap at less than one second between the two Andretti Autosport affiliated drivers – Herta races under the Andretti Steinbrenner Racing banner – for most of the 30-lap race. But, O’Ward kept Herta at bay to take the win by one-and-a-half seconds at the checkered flag.

This is also O’Ward’s second win in three races in the 2018 season.

Belardi Auto Racing’s Santi Urrutia finished third, followed by Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni, and Ryan Norman finished fifth to put three Andretti Autosport affiliated drivers in the Top 5.

Meanwhile, Belardi’s Aaron Telitz endured a second consecutive race in which he failed to complete a lap, after he was collected in a Lap 1, Turn 2 spin with Dalton Kellett. Kellett, who spun on his own, was able to continue despite the contact, but Telitz suffered damage to the right-front suspension, forcing him to retire without completing a lap for the second race in a row.

Results are below. Race 2 rolls off at 1:00 p.m. ET.

 

Pro Mazda: Thompson Roles to Dominant Race 1 Victory

Exclusive Autosport’s Parker Thompson dominated Race 1, leading all 25 laps from the pole on his way to victory. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Race 1 for Pro Mazda was hardly ever in doubt. Polesitter Parker Thompson, who soared to pole with a track record in qualifying, led right from the drop of the green flag to lead all 25 laps on his way to winning Race 1.

Thompson had to withstand a brief challenge from RP Motorsport’s Harrison Scott on a Lap 4 restart – a caution was flown for debris on the front straightaway on Lap 2 – but Thompson immediately began gapping the field again, and the Exclusive Autosport driver won by over five seconds.

Scott came home in second, while BN Racing’s David Malukas, Team Pelfrey’s Andres Gutierrez, and Juncos Racing’s Rinus VeeKay battled for third, with Malukas holding off Gutierrez and VeeKay to take the final spot on the podium.

Results are below. Pro Mazda Race 2 rolls off at 10:50 a.m. ET on Sunday.

 

Check back later for driver quotes.

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