Kanaan fit, focused, still fast going into third Ganassi season

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The headline to this piece itself is an indication that Tony Kanaan perhaps wasn’t meant to still be here three years later, in this place, in one of the marquee seats in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

But he is. And he’s not slowing down anytime soon.

“TK,” who turned 41 on New Year’s Eve, prepares to undertake his third full season with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2016 – his second in the now NTT Data-backed No. 10 Dallara-Chevrolet – and remains motivated and primed to prove to any doubters that he’s still got it.

“In 2013, people were saying ‘he might be done’ because we didn’t have the money and sponsorship. And now here we are in 2016 and I’m driving for one of the best teams in the IndyCar paddock,” Kanaan told MotorSportsTalk during this weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 test at Daytona International Speedway.

“It is extremely rewarding, it proves that I can still drive. Some people may say ‘Now you’re 41, you’re getting old.’ I don’t know where they get that from because we’ve still got it. I’m lucky to do what I love and drive for one of the best teams. I think this is every driver’s dream.”

And frankly, the stats back that up. If anything, the stats don’t do it justice simply how good Kanaan has been since taking over the the No. 10 car from Dario Franchitti at the end of 2013, following the Scot’s medically-enforced retirement after his accident in Houston.

In two seasons (2014, 2015), Kanaan has led 620 laps, won once, scored nine podiums, 12 top-fives and 22 top-10 finishes, and finished seventh and eighth in the standings. That’s better than he did after two seasons ending ninth and 11th with KV Racing Technology (now KVSH Racing), even in the year he won the 2013 Indianapolis 500.

And races like Iowa each of the last two years or Pocono in 2014 – events that Kanaan dominated but lost through no fault of his own either on pit road or from mechanical woes – continues to prove he is still one of the best oval drivers out there to this day.

This past year, in 2015, Kanaan assessed his performance as better than in his first season with Ganassi, when he was transitioning over.

“It’s hard to give yourself a grade. I had a better season than the year before, so I would say I would give myself a B,” he said.

“I’d give Scott (Dixon) an A-plus, as a team we won the championship. So obviously, we have to try to do that again this year.”

Given that, he’s bullish on 2016 potential as well.

“My outlook is we’re coming off a season where we won the championship, we have very strong cars, not a lot of changes,” he said. “So I think we’ll be very competitive. And if we do things right, I think we can win the championship.”

Kanaan, like teammate Scott Dixon, has a title to defend first later this month at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Along with Ganassi NASCAR aces Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson, they’ll be in the No. 02 Riley-Ford in the final scheduled outing for the team’s Daytona Prototypes, as the new Ford GT program comes online at Daytona concurrently.

Kanaan heads into Daytona fresh off a winter full of family time with his two sons, Leo and Deco, at least one triathlon, hernia surgery and a new tattoo.

The 2015 Rolex 24 was an important race for Kanaan. His previous starts came in 1998 and in 2013 and in neither car was he able to contend for the overall win. In his first Rolex 24 with Ganassi, he played a key part.

“It was a last minute deal three years ago with Porsche. It was cool because it was with my friend Rubens (Barrichello). But it wasn’t the proper deal,” he admitted.

“Since I came back here, it’s been a deal that you know you can win the race. Like I said, it’s every driver’s dream. It just has changed because you go from something that you’re just participating, now to where you can make a difference.

“Winning last year was just unbelievable. It’s one of those things you never forget. And when you have such a success like that, you want to keep coming back. They give you the opportunity to come back, with the same guys, the same cars. I can keep doing this for years.”

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Houston

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Eli Tomac led all 23 laps of the Monster Energy Supercross race at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas and the results show he now has three wins in the season and is one shy of tying Ricky Carmichael’s 48 for third on the all-time list. With this win, he takes a seven point lead in the standings with 12 rounds remaining.

For Tomac at Houston, it was literally a tale of two races. Both his heat and the main started the same with Tomac grabbing the holeshot, but he was passed quickly by Chase Sexton in the heat. Tomac faded quickly after getting passed and was trailing by almost eight seconds at the checkered flag, which caused him to retreat to the hauler and reassess his lines. Without making any adjustments to the bike, Tomac entered the Main with a new attitude, and simply rode better.

Supercross Results Houston
Chase Sexton played it safe in the sand, but he was aggressive in every other turn. – Feld Motor Sports

Sexton had so great a lead in his heat that one could not even use the cliche that he left Tomac in his dust. By the time the rider with the No. 1 plate crossed the same real estate as the No. 23, the dust was well settled. Sexton had a modest start on the initial gate drop and ended Lap 1 in fourth. He worked his way past Aaron Plessinger on Lap 3 and got around Jason Anderson three laps later. Sexton was able to catch Tomac and pressure him, but he picked a safe, i.e. slow line through the sand section and could never get alongside his rival.

RESULTS: Click here for 450 Results; Click here for full 250 East Main Results

After starting the season with back-to-back seventh-place finishes, Anderson now has a pair of podiums. He won his heat and was easily one of the top three riders in the field, ultimately finishing behind the riders who finished 1-2 in the other preliminary. Anderson was subdued on the podium – happy he was there, but disappointed he has not yet found a way around the riders he is chasing in the points.

In the early stages of the race, Plessinger appeared to have a bike capable of winning. He pressured Tomac on the first two laps and was setting up the pass just as a red flag waved for an injury to Dylan Ferrandis that brought out a red flag. He lost second to Anderson on the restart and eventually slipped to fourth to score his first top-five of the season.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

Cooper Webb rounded out the top five. Along with Sexton, he is now one of just two riders with a sweep of that mark in 2023, but with Tomac’s three wins, he is beginning to slip in the points. Webb sits third in the standings, 12 points behind the leader.

Ken Roczen entered the race as the third rider with a sweep of the top five and progressively better results in the first three races of 2023. Had the pattern held, he would have finished at least second, but he struggled for most of the night, finishing fifth in his heat and eighth in the Main. There may have been extenuating circumstances, however. Ferrandis’ injury was suffered when he landed on the back of Roczen’s bike and potentially damaged the No. 94 Suzuki.

Click here for 450 Main results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points | Lap Chart


The 250 East division made their 2023 debut in Houston, but the name atop the board was familiar. Hunter Lawrence joined his brother Jett Lawrence as the early points’ leader in their respective divisions, but it didn’t come without a little anxiety.

Riding behind Supercross newbie Tom Vialle on the second lap, Lawrence was forced to take evasive action when the leader pitched his bike sideways to scrub speed over a jump. Lawrence veered left and landed off course, but he cleared the Tuff Blox and kept his bike straight. Lawrence made the pass for the lead on Lap 18 and never relinquished it.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

In his first attempt on a 250, Max Anstie ascended to the podium. – Feld Motor Sports

England’s Max Anstie made the move from 450s to 250s this year after scoring a best result of 11th on the big bike at Anaheim 2 last year. It didn’t take anytime at all to find the front for Anstie, who finished second in both his heat and main.

It has been a while since Jordon Smith stood on the podium: February 23, 2019 to be exact when he finished that well in Detroit. A series of injuries kept him off the bike for much of 2020 and 2021, but he’s proving to be a factor when he’s healthy.

Click here for 250 Main results | 250 East Rider Points | Combined Rider Points | Lap Chart

There was a lot of hype surrounding the debut of Haiden Deegan in the 250 class and he proved it was merited. He finished fourth in his heat and main. He was as far down as ninth at one point in the feature before slowly picking off riders on his way to the front.

Jeremy Martin finished fifth and now has a streak of three consecutive top-fives to his credit stretching back to last year. Unfortunately, his pair of strong runs in 2022 were interrupted by injury.

Making impressive debuts in the 250 division, Vialle recovered from a fall to finish seventh, Chance Hymas finished eighth, and Talon Hawkins just missed the top 10 with an 11th.

2023 Results

Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Chase Sexton falls
Week 1: Eli Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s