The last lap for Tony Kanaan in the NTT IndyCar Series finally will come May 28 as the veteran announced he will be retiring with the 107th Indy 500 after a quarter-century career.
The 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner announced Wednesday morning via social media that his final start will come at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In a video that he posted, Kanaan walks the grounds of the Brickyard and says, “it’s been a wonderful journey, but it’s not done yet. I will still have the pleasure to drive through the bricks one more time. Thank you all, and I’ll see you on race day.”
🇧🇷Tem sido uma jornada maravilhosa, mas ainda não acabou. Espero vcs para a última em Maio.
🇺🇸 Let’s do this one last time. See you all in May.@ArrowMcLaren @IndyCar pic.twitter.com/lC1iY4GhT0
— Tony Kanaan (@TonyKanaan) February 15, 2023
He was announced last year as the driver of the fourth Dallara-Chevrolet entry for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar Team in the 2023 Indy 500. Last year, Kanaan finished third with Chip Ganassi Racing in his only IndyCar start of the 2022 season.
Kanaan will drive the No. 66 Dallara-Chevy in May for Arrow McLaren with primary sponsorship from Smart Stop Self Storage. The number is a nod to McLaren Racing’s history, commemorating the 1966 win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans by Bruce McLaren in the same year that the McLaren team entered its first Formula One race.
Fernando Alonso ran the No. 66 when he failed to qualify for the 2019 Indy 500. Mark Donohu won the 1972 Indy 500 with the No. 66.
During a Wednesday afternoon news conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Kanaan said he had no regrets, but “you’re never ready for this. As much as you don’t want to go, it’s there. You have to make smart, right decisions at the right time. I’d hate to be coming (to Indy) just to participate. Last year really was a good opportunity. I finished the race, and I was ready.”
Kanaan still said he expected to be “crying like a baby” during the prerace ceremonies for the Indy 500, which will be his 22nd start on the 2.5-mile oval.
“I’m going to miss it every day of my life,” Kanaan said. “I miss it now. But I think I’m fine. We’re kicking off the 100 days (until) Indy Friday and also kicking off the 100 days of crying Friday. I’m OK, I’m at peace with my decision and have a really good shot of winning this thing.”
The popular Brazilian ran four oval races with Ganassi (sharing the No. 48 Dallara-Honda with Jimmie Johnson) in a partial 2021 schedule that extended his career. Kanaan originally announced the 2020 season would be his “Last Lap” in IndyCar.
But the 2004 series champion’s plans for a celebratory lap to honor the fans were scuttled by the COVID-19 pandemic that limited crowds from attending races.
Kanaan since has joked often about his delayed retirement plans, noting at IndyCar’s preseason media event two weeks ago in Palm Springs, California, that six-time series champion Scott Dixon “makes fun of me until this day.
👀 @ArrowMcLaren @IndyCar #punishk_photo @NBCSports pic.twitter.com/8Bcz4N9jqS
— Tony Kanaan (@TonyKanaan) February 1, 2023
“This is the last, last, last, last lap, the very last lap,” Kanaan cracked to reporters Feb. 1 when asked if he was hoping to race at Indy again in 2024. “So the answer honestly will be I think I will definitely make a decision, which is not just all up to me.”
At that time, Kanaan said he planned to decide on his future “when we cross the start-finish line on that Sunday. When I win — if I win — I’ll put everybody on the spot and I’ll say, I’m coming back. This is exactly what happened last year.
“Right now I think the focus is this 500. It wasn’t a mistake, but we announced something two years ago and then a great opportunity came with Jimmie’s (ride). I’m not going to put out there, ‘This is what I’m doing.’ It’s just let it be.”
In nearly 400 starts across the CART Champ Car and IndyCar Series from 1998-2022, Kanaan has 17 victories and 79 podium finishes.
His first victory was July 25, 1999 at Michigan International Speedway with Gerry Forsythe’s No. 11 Reynard-Honda. His most recent win was in the Aug. 30, 2014 season finale at Auto Club Speedway in the No. 10 Dallara-Honda for Ganassi.
Kanaan has continued to race in other series, such as the Superstar Racing Experience and stock-car races in Brazil.
Sad to see Tony Kanaan hang it up, but like Kevin Harvick, you can't really ask for a longer career
IndyCar has changed tremendously since Tony's debut in 1998. Of his 17 career wins, only 3 are at tracks IndyCar still races at (Indy, Texas, Iowa) https://t.co/q18BUQJO60
— nascarman (@nascarman_rr) February 15, 2023