Kanaan: We didn’t do a good job keeping Rubens in IndyCar

1 Comment

KV Racing Technology’s new lineup of Tony Kanaan and Simona de Silvestro is one of the most popular in the IndyCar paddock. That said, there’s still a feeling of disappointment that Kanaan’s longtime best friend and last year, teammate, Rubens Barrichello isn’t around this year.

Barrichello raised enough money between Brazilian companies and some out of pocket to race in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series after a 19-year career in Formula One.

Although Barrichello has started the most races in F1 history, more than 300, continuing out of pocket in IndyCar for a second season wasn’t realistic. He wanted to come back, according to Kanaan.

“I don’t think he needed any convincing. He wanted to do it,” Kanaan said in a press conference Wednesday. “But coming from Formula One, and he brought a lot to us by doing the switch, we didn’t do a good job getting him to stay. When he put almost $5 million out of his own pocket after 19 years just because he wanted to keep racing, it was remarkable.”

Kanaan cited a number of factors, including the challenging climate of selling sponsorship for IndyCar racing, despite a good on-track product.

“To ask him do it again, I don’t think was fair,” he said. “I’m not blaming anybody. It’s just the situation we all face. He felt he couldn’t find the money, and got an offer in (Brazilian) stock cars and some TV work to do that. It was just consequences of the financial situation right now.”

Citing sponsorship challenges, Kanaan can relate. A number of companies – Hydroxycut, GEICO and Mouser Electronics – have already stepped up to sponsor the No. 11 KVRT-SH Chevrolet entry this year. Reportedly, more races are still available for sale on this car.

Carb Day: Tony Kanaan is fastest in final practice for Sunday’s Indy 500

Leave a comment

Tony Kanaan wants to put legendary driver and team owner A.J. Foyt back into Victory Lane at the Indianapolis 500.

Kanaan took a big step toward achieving that goal in Friday’s final practice for Sunday’s 102nd running of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing.

Kanaan was fastest of the 33-driver field, with a best lap around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval at 227.791 mph, more than 2 mph faster than the second-fastest driver, Kanaan’s former teammate, Scott Dixon (225.684 mph).

Foyt won a record-tying four Indy 500’s as a driver. It’s been nearly 20 years since he also won as a team owner in 1999 with Kenny Brack behind the wheel.

Marco Andretti was third-fastest (225.200 mph), followed by Sebastien Bourdais (224.815), Charlie Kimball (224.712), 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato (224.083), Will Power (223.942), Danica Patrick (223.653), Spencer Pigot (223.584) and Ed Jones (223.556).

Other notable driver speeds included:

* Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th fastest (223.219 mph).

* Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden was 15th (223.186 mph).

* Helio Castroneves, hoping to earn a record-tying fourth 500 win, was 17th (222.913 mph).

* Graham Rahal was 21st (222.526).

* Former 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was 26th (221.916 mph), followed by rookie Robert Wickens (221.821 mph), carrying the mantle for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with James Hinchcliffe having failed to qualify for the race.

* The biggest surprise was 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi, who was 32nd fastest (221.374 mph).

We’ll have the full speed grid, as well as full driver quotes, shortly. Please check back soon.

Follow @JerryBonkowski