Kanaan ready to try for IMS double in 2013

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Tony Kanaan will be back at Indianapolis this weekend for the first time since his popular and triumphant first victory at the 2013 Indianapolis 500.

Except this time, he’ll be turning right and left, and driving a tin-top, tubed-frame Daytona Prototype for the first time in his career.

“I’ve never driven one of these cars. I’m going to have to learn a lot in the first day,” Kanaan said Tuesday in a conference call. “I will do anything I can do to help the team. If we’re in a position to do that, for sure we’ll take it.”

He’s got a good chance as he’ll be co-driving with one of North America’s top sports car drivers, Joey Hand, in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates’ second car for the GRAND-AM Rolex Series’ Brickyard Grand Prix. He’ll have Thursday to get acquainted with the No. 02 NTT Data Riley BMW.

Kanaan will rely on Hand and the primary car of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas for Zen-like guidance on how to handle the car and the track.

“I think I’m going to lean a lot on Scott and Joey to teach me,” he said. “A couple days ago I got an email from Tim (Keene), our team manager at Ganassi, four pages that I had to learn, all the switches and stuff. Of course, I think we have a little bit of time on Thursday for me to learn that. Even to learn the racetrack. It’s funny to say that I don’t know the  track. The track I know runs the opposite way and only turns left.”

And if he wins, he’d have a rare two-fer of wins at the same track in the same year.

“It took me 12 years to win the 500. To win two races in Indianapolis, I don’t know what to think yet. But it’s early. I know we have a competitive car. I’m just glad to be part of it.”

March 29 in Motorsports History: Scott Dixon wins first race after reunification

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Reunited and it felt so good.

That’s what drivers likely thought before the 2008 IndyCar opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

For the first time since 1995, major-league open-wheel racing in the United States was under the banner of a sole sanctioning body as Champ Car and the Indy Racing Leauge had reunified just a month prior.

Scott Dixon celebrates after winning the 2008 IndyCar opener at Homestead. Photo: Jim Hines/IndyCar.

The first race after reunification also saw a reversal of fortunes for Scott Dixon, who won the race after losing the 2007 IRL championship in crushing fashion.

In the 2007 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway, Dixon ran out of fuel while leading on the final lap of the race. The race victory – and championship – went to Dixon’s future teammate, Dario Franchitti.

But the tides turned for Dixon nearly seven months later, and the Kiwi was able to win with the help of another driver’s misfortune.

Tony Kanaan was leading with seven laps remaining when E.J. Viso spun and made contact with Kanaan’s car. Kanaan remained on track through the caution period despite suffering obvious damage to his right front suspension.

On the final restart with three laps remaining, Dixon and others cars easily passed Kanaan’s wounded car on the outside. Dixon then maintained his lead through the checkered flag to win at Homestead for the second time in his career.

“I think Marco (Andretti) and T.K. probably had a little bit better cars today, but we came through with the win, and that’s what counts,” Dixon told ESPN after his 12th career victory.

Following his victory at Homestead, Dixon continued to redeem himself through the course of the 2008 season. In May, he won the Indianapolis 500 for the first (and so far only) time. Following Indy, he went on to win four more times in 2008 and won his second series championship.

Also on this date:

1998: Mika Hakkinen won the Grand Prix of Brazil, the first of eight victories in his first championship season.

2010: Will Power won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which was held on a Monday morning because of rain postponing the race on Sunday.

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