Heading to Detroit, the Indy 500 shook up IndyCar’s points

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Simon Pagenaud still leads the Verizon IndyCar Series points standings heading to this weekend’s Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans, but his lead’s been reduced after an Indianapolis 500 that saw him and the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet revealed as “human.”

After starting eighth and finishing 19th in the 100th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, never really a factor, Pagenaud’s ridiculous two seconds, three wins to start 2016 meant he lost a sizable chunk of his points lead for the first time this year.

Pagenaud left the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis with a 76-point lead and after qualifying points were added in Indy, his lead expanded to 83 points with a plus-seven net on Scott Dixon.

But with Dixon ending eighth in the race to Pagenaud’s 19th, the Frenchman’s lead into Detroit this weekend – in what is now the No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Team Penske Chevrolet – is down to 57 points.

With 10 races to go and still this weekend’s doubleheader, plus the Sonoma double points finale, this points championship is now wide open.

Other big movers from the Angie’s List Grand Prix to the Indianapolis 500 include the biggest mover, Alexander Rossi, who gained 11 spots after pulling off the shock but impressive win. Carlos Munoz and Josef Newgarden, who finished second and third, each gained eight spots.

Drivers who fell back were Juan Pablo Montoya and Graham Rahal, who both lost seven spots.

Another interesting note: In the series Sunoco Rookie of the Year battle, it was Conor Daly 88, Max Chilton 80 and Rossi 79. But Rossi’s win has blown that title wide open, now at 203 to Chilton’s 122 and Daly’s 108.

Here’s a breakdown of points after the Angie’s List Grand Prix on the left, versus the Indianapolis 500 on the right, with the positions gained and lost:

1 22 Pagenaud 242 1 22 Pagenaud 292
2 9 Dixon 166 2 9 Dixon 235
3 2 Montoya 160 3 3 Castroneves 224 +1
4 3 Castroneves 159 4 21 Newgarden 211 +8
5 15 Rahal 133 5 5 Hinchcliffe 205 +3
6 10 Kanaan 111 6 98 Rossi 203 +11
7 83 Kimball 111 7 26 Munoz 199 +8
8 5 Hinchcliffe 110 8 10 Kanaan 192 -2
9 28 Hunter-Reay 109 9 42 Kimball 189 -2
10 12 Power 105 10 2 Montoya 187 -7
11 14 Sato 102 11 12 Power 178 -1
12 21 Newgarden 100 12 15 Rahal 173 -7
13 18 Daly 88 13 28 Hunter-Reay 162 -4
14 7 Aleshin 87 14 11 Bourdais 134 +5
15 26 Munoz 84 15 14 Sato 134 -4
16 8 Chilton 80 16 27 Andretti 130 +2
17 98 Rossi 79 17 7 Aleshin 127 -3
18 27 Andretti 76 18 8 Chilton 122 -2
19 11 Bourdais 75 19 18 Daly 108 -6
20 41 Hawksworth 60 20 41 Hawksworth 91
21 19 Filippi 45 21 6 Hildebrand 84 +6
22 16 Pigot 35 22 77 Servia 72 +3
23 61 Brabham 14 23 29 Bell 55
24 19 Chaves 13 24 16 Pigot 50 -2
25 12 Servia 12 25 19 Chaves 46 -1
26 20 Carpenter 9 26 19 Filippi 45 -5
27 6 Hildebrand 8 27 61 Brabham 37 -4
28 35 Tagliani 7 28 35 Tagliani 35
29 63 Mann 33
30 20 Carpenter 33 -4
31 24 Karam 22
32 88 Clauson 21
33 25 S.Wilson 14
34 4 B.Lazier 12

Tony Kanaan at peace with IndyCar career end: ‘I’ll always be an Indianapolis 500 winner’


INDIANAPOLIS – Few drivers in Indy 500 history have been as popular as Tony Kanaan.

Throughout his career at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that began with his first Indy 500 in 2002, the fans loved his aggressiveness on the track and his engaging personality with the fans.

The Brazilian always got the loudest cheers from the fans during driver introductions before the Indy 500.

Sunday’s 107th Indianapolis 500 would be his last time to walk up the steps for driver introductions. Kanaan announced earlier this year that it would be his final race of his IndyCar career, but not the final race as a race driver.

He will continue to compete in stock cars in Brazil and in Tony Stewart’s summer series known as the “Superstar Racing Experience” – an IROC-type series that competes at legendary short tracks around the country beginning in June.

Kanaan was the extra driver at Arrow McLaren for this year’s Indy 500 joining NTT IndyCar Series regulars Pato O’Ward of Mexico, Felix Rosenqvist of Sweden, and Alexander Rossi of northern California.

He had a sporty ride, the No. 66 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet that paid homage to McLaren’s first Indianapolis 500 victory by the late Mark Donohue for Team Penske in 1972.

Because Kanaan has meant so much to the Indianapolis 500 and the NTT IndyCar Series, the 2013 Indy 500 winner was honored before the start of the race with a special video.

It featured Kanaan sitting in the Grandstand A seats writing a love letter to the fans of this great event. Kanaan narrated the video, reciting the words in the letter and it finished with the driver putting it in an envelope and leaving it at the Yard of Bricks.

Lauren Kanaan with daughter Nina before the 107th Indy 500 (Bruce Martin Photo).

Many in the huge crowd of 330,000 fans watched the video on the large screens around the speedway. On the starting grid, Kanaan’s wife, Lauren, who bears a striking resemblance to actress Kate Beckinsale, watched with their four children.

Kanaan’s wife is an Indiana girl who was a high school basketball star in Cambridge City, Indiana.

Kanaan proposed to Lauren in 2010, and after a three-year engagement, they were married in 2013 – the year he won his only Indianapolis 500.

She has been Kanaan’s rock, and this was a moment for the family to share.

After receiving an ovation and the accolades from the crowd, Kanaan walked to his car on the starting grid and exchanged hugs with people who were important in his career.

One of those was Takuma Sato’s engineer at Chip Ganassi Racing, Eric Cowdin.

Tony Kanaan shares a moment with former engineer Eric Cowdin (Bruce Martin Photo).

Kanaan and Cowdin shared a longtime relationship dating all the way back to the Andretti Green Racing days when Kanaan was a series champion in 2004. This combination stayed together when Kanaan moved to KV Racing in 2011, then Chip Ganassi Racing from 2014-2018 followed by two years at AJ Foyt Racing.

Kanaan returned to run the four oval races for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2021 in the No. 48 Honda that was shared with seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.

In 2022, Johnson ran the full IndyCar Series schedule, and Kanaan drove the No. 1 American Legion entry to a third-place finish in his only IndyCar race of the season.

Kanaan knew that 2023 would be his last Indy 500 and properly prepared himself mentally and emotionally for his long goodbye.

But one could sense the heartfelt love, gratitude, and most of all respect for this tenacious driver in the moments leading up to the start of the race.

Tony Kanaan gets emotional during an interview after the Indy 500 (Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar/ USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

“The emotions are just there,” Kanaan said. “I cried 400 times. This guy came to hug me, and I made Rocket (IndyCar Technical Director Kevin Blanch) cry. I mean, that is something.

“Yeah, it was emotional.”

Kanaan started ninth and finished 18th in a race that was very clean for the first two thirds of the race before ending in disjointed fashion with three red flags to stop the race over the final 15 laps.

“Yellows breed yellows and when you are talking about the Indianapolis 500 and a field that is so tough to pass, that happens,” Kanaan said. “It’s the Indy 500. Come on. We’ve got to leave it out there.

“Every red flag, everybody goes, I’m going to pass everybody. It’s tough to pass. It’s the toughest field, the tightest field we ever had here. It was going to happen. We knew it was going to happen.

“I wouldn’t want it any different. We left it all out there. Everybody that was out left it out.”

At one point in the second half of the race, Kanaan passed Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin by driving through the grass on the backstretch.

“That was OK, right?” Kanaan said. “That is one thing I have not done in 22 years here. Even (team owner) Sam Schmidt came to me and said, ‘That was a good one.’

“That was a farewell move.”

On the final lap, it was Kanaan battling his boyhood friend from Brazil, four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, for a mid-pack finish.

“Helio and I battling for 15th and 16th on the last lap like we’re going for the lead,” Kanaan said. “It was like, who’s playing pranks with us.

“We both went side by side on the backstretch after the checker and we saluted with each other, and I just told him actually I dropped a tear because of that, and he said, ‘I did, too.’

“We went side by side like twice. A lot of memories came to my mind, and I even said how ironic it is that we started it together and I get to battle him on the last lap of my last race.

Tony Kanaan is embraced by his wife, Lauren, after finishing 16th in the 107th Indianapolis 500 ((Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar/ USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

“It’s pretty neat. It’s a pretty cool story. He’s a great friend. My reference, a guy that I love and hate a lot throughout my career, and like he just told me — I was coming up here and he just said, who am I going to look on the time sheet when I come into the pits now, because we always said that it didn’t matter if I was — if I was 22nd and he was 23rd, my day was okay. And vice versa.

“It was a good day for me, man. What can I say? We cried on the grid.

“Not the result that we wanted. I went really aggressive on the downforce to start the race. It was wrong. Then I added downforce towards the end of the race, and it was wrong. It was just one of those days.”

After the race was over, Kanaan drove his No. 66 Honda back to the Arrow McLaren pit area and climbed out of the car to cheers of the fans that could see him. Others were focused on Josef Newgarden’s wild celebration after the Team Penske driver had won his first Indianapolis 500.

There were no tears, though, only smiles from Kanaan who closes an IndyCar career with 389 starts, 17 wins including the 2013 Indianapolis 500, 79 podiums, 13 poles, and 4,077 laps led in a 26-year career.

Kanaan came, he raced, and he raced hard.

“That’s what we did, we raced as hard as we could,” Kanaan told NBC Sports.com. “It wasn’t enough.

“The win was the only thing that mattered. If we were second or 16th, we were going to celebrate regardless.

“In a way, being 16th will stop people wondering if I’m going to come back.

“I’m ready to go. I’m ready to enjoy the time with my family, with my team and doing other things as well.”

Kanaan’s face will forever be part of the Borg-Warner Trophy as the winner of the Indianapolis 500.

“I won one and that is there, and it will always be there,” Kanaan said. “It was an awesome day.

“The way this crowd made me feel was unbelievable. I don’t regret a bit.”

Tony Kanaan hugs his son Max before the Indy 500 (Grace Hollars/IndyStar/USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

Kanaan actually announced the 2020 Indianapolis 500 would be TK’s last ride because he wanted to say goodbye to the fans.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 hit, the Indianapolis 500 was moved from Memorial Day Weekend to August 23 and because of COVID restrictions, fans were not allowed to attend the Indianapolis 500.

Three years later, Kanaan was finally able to say goodbye to this fans that were part of the largest crowd to see the Indianapolis 500 since the sold-out gathering for 350,000 that attended the 100th running in 2016.

“That’s it, that’s what I wanted, and I got what I wanted,” Kanaan said. “This moment was so special; I don’t want to ever spoil it again.

Tony Kanaan kisses his daughter Nina before the 107th Indy 500 (Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

“We’ve been building and growing this series as much as we can. I’m really glad and proud that I was able to be part of building something big and this year’s race was one of the biggest ones.”

Kanaan walked off pit lane and rejoined his family. He will always be part of the glorious history of the Indianapolis 500 and fans will be talking about Tony Kanaan years from now, not by what he did, but the way he did it.

“This is what it is all about,” Kanaan said on pit lane. “Having kids, be a good person. Even if you don’t win, it’s fine if you don’t, as long as you make a difference.

“Hopefully, I made a difference in this sport.

“I will always be an IndyCar driver. I will always be an Indy 500 winner and I will always make people aware of IndyCar in the way it deserves.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

(Jenna Watson/IndyStar / USA TODAY Sports Images Network)