Kanaan starts 2013 right with fourth-place effort

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Tony Kanaan battled hard and jumped seven spots to claim fourth place in today’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg — a far better outcome than the 25th-place result he was saddled with last year at St. Pete because of a battery failure.

Kanaan appeared set to battle KV Racing Technology teammate Simona de Silvestro for the podium late, but a surging Marco Andretti got by Kanaan for fourth with five laps remaining. Then, as the field headed for the white flag, Kanaan would follow Andretti past De Silvestro for his final result.

“My car was flawless while on track,” Kanaan said. “The only problem we had during the race was that I couldn’t shift into neutral during my last stop. That cost me three spots on track and made me work a bit more for this fourth place finish. I was impressed that my last set of scuffed red Firestones lasted that long and I can’t say enough about my Chevy engine.”

Kanaan also talked about his teammate’s valiant effort to hang on to third place as the laps ticked down.

“It’s unfortunate that Simona couldn’t hold on for third place,” he said. “She was running strong up front until she had no more tires. She deserved the podium.

“I guess Marco had a newer set of Firestones than both Simona and I, so it was just a matter of time for him to get by us.”

Still, between Kanaan’s fourth and De Silvestro’s eventual sixth, it was a good day overall for the KVRT crew.

“We’re very excited about the results,” team manager Steve Moore said. “We had a couple of issues in the pits, but the drivers and the crews rebounded. It’s not the end result that we wanted, but we’ll take the positives out of it and move on to the next race.”

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).