Kanaan hopes to cash in on Triple Crown bonus

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Two out of three ain’t bad. But three out of three is perfect.

Thanks to his triumph this past May at the Indianapolis 500 (pictured), Tony Kanaan can claim a $250,000 bonus if he wins this weekend’s Pocono IndyCar 400 – the second leg of INDYCAR’s Triple Crown that’s made up of the events at Indy, Pocono and the October season-finale at Auto Club Speedway.

That particular bonus for winning two of those three superspeedway events is up for grabs to Kanaan and the rest of the IZOD IndyCar Series paddock. However, if he wins at the “Tricky Triangle,” Kanaan alone will be able to contend for a $1 million prize that goes with pulling off a Triple Crown sweep.

It’d be unwise to bet against the Brazilian, who has collected three podium finishes (a first at Indy and thirds at both Texas and Iowa) this past month on the ovals.

“Obviously, I’m the only one that has a chance to win the Triple Crown, so the pressure is on,” Kanaan told IndyCar.com. “But I’m excited. Pocono will be the third of four races I will run in the Sunoco “Turbo” car, and after the success we have had in the first two – finishing on the podium at both Texas and Iowa – I really want to keep that momentum going at Pocono and hopefully do even better.”

Should Kanaan sweep the Triple Crown, he’d join four-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser as the only drivers to pull it off. In 1978, Unser won at Indy, Pocono and the long-gone Ontario (Calif.) Motor Speedway, which made up the original Triple Crown.

Now, Unser is hoping that Kanaan can replicate his feat.

“For Tony to win [the Indianapolis 500] after all his tries, it was really good for him,” said Unser. “The man is capable of winning; he showed that. But there are about 10 other guys out there that will be close chasing him.

“If he can win Pocono and then California, I’d be happy to have him join me as a Triple Crown winner, for sure.”

IndyCar’s Vasser-Sullivan expand into IMSA for 2019

James Sullivan and Jimmy Vasser. Photo IndyCar
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Not even one year after returning to the IndyCar ranks, Vasser-Sullivan Racing is taking AIM at the IMSA world, you might say.

While team co-owners Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan will continue to partner with Dale Coyne Racing on the IndyCar side, they expanded their holdings Tuesday, announcing a partnership with AIM Autosport to campaign a new two-car Lexus-backed RC F GT3 effort in IMSA’s GT Daytona class.

The new team – named AIM Vasser-Sullivan – will replace 3GT Racing, which was part of Lexus’ sports car program launch in 2016. It will announce its two drivers in the coming weeks, the team said.

“Sulli and I are excited and looking forward to entering a new chapter in our racing careers,” Vasser said in a media release. “I have driven sports cars before, but my career was pretty much limited to the 24 Hours of Daytona, including a ‘class’ win in 1992 and second overall in 2008.

“The AIM Vasser Sullivan team, with the support of Lexus and our sponsors, has the tools to get the job done and we are looking forward to this new challenge.”

Lexus has made significant progress in its first two seasons in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition, having earned a combined two race wins, five poles and finished third in the 2018 GTD Manufacturer point standings.

Vasser and Sullivan were part of the ownership group of KVSH Racing in IndyCar from 2011 through 2016 before the organization folded.

They also owned Tony Kanaan’s 2013 Indianapolis 500-winning car.

After sitting out the 2017 season, Vasser, a former CART champion, and Sullivan rejoined forces this past February, just before the start of the 2018 IndyCar season, partnering with Coyne to form a satellite team led by driver Sebastien Bourdais, who previously drove for KVSH.

Bourdais kicked off the new team’s effort with a win in the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He finished seventh in the overall season standings.

AIM Vasser Sullivan will have two home bases for its IMSA program: AIM’s current facility in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, as well as a new U.S. shop in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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