Tony Kanaan not worried over slow start with Ganassi

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Tony Kanaan’s first two races for Target Chip Ganassi Racing could have gone better, but the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion isn’t perturbed.

Kanaan overcame a fuel mixture issue to finish sixth in the season opener at St. Petersburg, but was one of several drivers collected in a multi-car crash at Long Beach.

As a result, the Brazilian sits 11th early on in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship, which makes its third stop of the season this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park (Sun., 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra).

Last night on Indianapolis’ 1070 The Fan, Kanaan told Indianapolis Star writer Curt Cavin that the slow start to 2014 isn’t because he’s still acclimating to the Ganassi camp.

“I’m not gonna sit here and say ‘Oh, I need to get used to the team, I need to learn this or learn that,'” he said on “Trackside.” “It’s just the series is extremely competitive – and when I signed up for this deal, I knew it was not going to be easy.

“If anybody thought we were gonna win every race, that’s not the case. That’s not gonna happen. [That mindset is] not counting the good guys we have against us right now.

“I’m not where I want to be in the championship right now to be honest with you, but the good thing is we have a race this weekend and we can change that.”

Still, Kanaan figured that he and the rest of the field will likely have to go through IndyCar points leader Will Power and his own TCGR teammate, Scott Dixon, at Barber.

The Aussie and the Kiwi are perennially strong in Alabama. Power has two wins at Barber (2011, 2012), while Dixon has claimed four consecutive runner-up finishes there.

Facing such stiff competition, Kanaan acknowledged that he needed to step it up in the weeks ahead, which also include the series’ first visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course and then preparations for the Indianapolis 500.

“To be honest, I think we definitely have to do a better job,” he said.  “That’s why I’m here [in Indy] this week, working with the team.

“It won’t be the first time that we have to turn our situation around. I actually work better under pressure.”

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).