Expectations were high when Tony Kanaan joined Target Chip Ganassi Racing to replace the retiring Dario Franchitti. They still are.
Never mind the fact that Kanaan’s third-place finish in today’s first race of the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit was his first Top-5 finish of the year.
This team demands much more than that, and its newest driver wants to deliver.
But Kanaan did recognize that P3 was still progress.
“”You can’t be happy finishing third,” the former Indy 500 winner said. “We want to win, so we’re working toward that direction.
“But it was a great race for us. We got great restarts, great pit stops, and the strategy played out in our favor big time.
“We have tonight to work on it, and tomorrow, I want to put that thing in P1.”
Kanaan quickly got to work in the No. 10 Energizer/Target Chevrolet, jumping from eighth to fifth on the opening lap of the 70-lap race. However, he had fallen a couple of positions by the time he pitted under yellow with teammate Scott Dixon at Lap 18.
As the numerous strategies in the field played out, Kanaan fell into the pack but was able to rise up into the Top 5 again by the time he made his last stop.
After Mikhail Aleshin brought out the caution with 15 laps remaining for his spin, Kanaan lined up fourth for the final restart and moved into podium position when Ryan Briscoe pitted from the lead with eight laps left.
Following the race, Kanaan was spotted talking to his boss, Chip Ganassi. In his post-race TV interview, he was asked about that conversation.
“I said, ‘Chip, I want to win. I’m happy that I’m third, but I want to win for you so bad,'” the Brazilian disclosed. “That’s all I said.”
Both Kanaan and TCGR have won numerous races and championships. And they both know that, for them, third place is still far short of the ultimate goal.