The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix marked a milestone for Tony Kanaan who competed in his 350th IndyCar Series race today in the beautiful setting of Belle Isle. The race also marked his 290th consecutive race which is an IndyCar Series record, lending Kanaan the nickname of Ironman.
Kanaan, an amateur triathlete, started 15th and appeared to be headed for a top-10 finish in his No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet as the team’s fuel strategy was working — Graham Rahal lost control and hit the wall, bringing out a full course yellow. Rahal was not injured in the hard hit in Turn 13.
Another accident 10 laps later sealed Kanaan’s fate. Charlie Kimball punted rookie Ferrucci Santino into the wall and Santino vaulted across the track just in front of Kanaan, whose quick reflexes and even quicker thinking allowed him to miss the car. Santino was stunned but not hurt.
Kanaan was disappointed with the outcome but pleased with his car and team’s performance.
“We passed a lot of cars today,” said Kanaan, who placed 15th. “We gambled with the strategy and we knew it could work or not and that last yellow killed us but it is what it is. We have to qualify better which we are working on because track position is so important. When you start playing with strategy like that, I told the boys we were either going to finish inside the top 10 or we’re gonna finish where we started. But I’m happy, the pit stops were good so we just have to keep working on the items we need to make better.”
The two accidents also played against Matheus “Matt” Leist’s game plan as he was on a similar fuel strategy to Kanaan. Leist started 21st and placed 15th in his No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet. For the 19th year-old Brazilian, the race was the seventh of his IndyCar Series career.
“It was a tough race starting 21st,” said Leist. “I think we were ok until the yellow came out for Graham, it messed up our strategy. I think we made some improvements in the car but the race didn’t go our way at the end. So we will improve the car and try to have a great race tomorrow.”
The race was won by Scott Dixon who tied Michael Andretti for career wins at 42. Second through fourth were Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi and pole sitter Marco Andretti. Takuma Sato rounded out the top five.
Race 2 of the doubleheader takes place tomorrow afternoon on the 2.35-mile course. It will be broadcast by ABC-TV starting at 3:30 p.m. ET.