Third place in Detroit Dual 1 not enough for Tony Kanaan

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Expectations were high when Tony Kanaan joined Target Chip Ganassi Racing to replace the retiring Dario Franchitti. They still are.

Never mind the fact that Kanaan’s third-place finish in today’s first race of the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit was his first Top-5 finish of the year.

This team demands much more than that, and its newest driver wants to deliver.

But Kanaan did recognize that P3 was still progress.

“”You can’t be happy finishing third,” the former Indy 500 winner said. “We want to win, so we’re working toward that direction.

“But it was a great race for us. We got great restarts, great pit stops, and the strategy played out in our favor big time.

“We have tonight to work on it, and tomorrow, I want to put that thing in P1.”

Kanaan quickly got to work in the No. 10 Energizer/Target Chevrolet, jumping from eighth to fifth on the opening lap of the 70-lap race. However, he had fallen a couple of positions by the time he pitted under yellow with teammate Scott Dixon at Lap 18.

As the numerous strategies in the field played out, Kanaan fell into the pack but was able to rise up into the Top 5 again by the time he made his last stop.

After Mikhail Aleshin brought out the caution with 15 laps remaining for his spin, Kanaan lined up fourth for the final restart and moved into podium position when Ryan Briscoe pitted from the lead with eight laps left.

Following the race, Kanaan was spotted talking to his boss, Chip Ganassi. In his post-race TV interview, he was asked about that conversation.

“I said, ‘Chip, I want to win. I’m happy that I’m third, but I want to win for you so bad,'” the Brazilian disclosed. “That’s all I said.”

Both Kanaan and TCGR have won numerous races and championships. And they both know that, for them, third place is still far short of the ultimate goal.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”