Kanaan makes strong move in IndyCar title race

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Tony Kanaan admittedly wasn’t going to catch his longtime pal Helio Castroneves in the closing stages of last night’s IZOD IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, but he was still able to climb ten spots up the grid to a third-place finish in the Firestone 550.

Coupled with an emotional victory in last month’s Indianapolis 500, Kanaan’s started off well on the ovals this year, and his third-place result in Fort Worth also pushed him an impressive four spots up the IndyCar standings table. He’s now fourth in the championship (-64 points off of Castroneves), although he still has to cut away at a sizable 37 point gap between himself and third-place pilot Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Kanaan and his KV Racing Technology team were hoping for a potential late-race yellow to aid him in his charge toward the front, but the race stayed green for the final 106 laps. He relinquished second place on the track in order to make his final stop of the night under green with 30 laps remaining, but he used the fresh rubber wisely and got past Ed Carpenter for the final spot on the podium in the last stint of the race.

“On our strategy, we were actually counting on a yellow toward the end of the race which would have put us in a very, very good position for the win, but I’ll take third place here any day,” said Kanaan.

“The yellows didn’t really fall for us on TK’s car,” said team co-owner Jimmy Vasser. “If there were ten more laps, I think we would have been there, or if we’d have had a yellow when he got around Helio, I think that because we were so much stronger, they would have been sitting ducks and we would have had a shot at it.”

Still, Kanaan appears set to make more inroads in the championship during the next two races on the ovals at Milwaukee (Sat., 4 pm ET, NBC Sports Network) and Iowa (Sun., June 23, check local listings), where he came away with podium finishes last season.