April 9, 2020
TONY KANAAN will be iRacing at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) in the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet which will be a totally new experience for the IndyCar veteran with the stellar MIS record. He won his first ever Indy Car race at Michigan as a sophomore in the CART IndyCar Series in 1999. He also won the last race there in 2007 when the IndyCar Series last competed at MIS. In nine starts at MIS, he posted five Top-Five finishes including two wins plus a runner-up finish the year he won the pole there in 2004. Kanaan recalled that victorious day in 1999 at Michigan when we asked him a few questions…
Q: What do you recall of your first ever INDYCAR victory, the U.S. 500 at Michigan Speedway in 1999?
TK: “I had an issue with the rear gurney, went a lap down, lost the radio communication and then came back from a lap down and Max Papis ran out of fuel on the last corner. I was running second and I won the race. I went from ‘Oh my day’s over’ to ‘Ah, it’s going to be a podium – cool! My best finish in IndyCar – Awesome’ to the last corner and ‘It’s going to be a win!’ And then I almost lost it because when I passed Max I had to lift a bit and Montoya almost got me at the line.”
Q: Do you remember that feeling?
TK: “Oh yeah…it was my first win in a big series—my dream come true! It was like a big movie came through my head because I was really young, suffered through everything I did, lived in the shop, promised my dad to never give up, all these things came to me and all of a sudden I can’t believe that I won. It was an awesome feeling.”
Q: How did it compare to winning the Indy 500?
TK: “Different. Different times. Your first win you never forget but I hate to say it, but nothing compares to winning Indy. That’s just the reality. It’s cool to remember your first win but if I had never won Indy it would be a bigger problem than that because anybody can win a race. But not just anybody can win the Indy 500.”
Q: Have you run on an oval in iRacing yet?
TK: “Yes I actually raced in Texas the other day in one of their races during the week. I finished fourth and Matheus [Leist] finished second.”
Q: How does it compare to the iRacing on road courses?
TK: “It’s a little different. The problem is that it is just a video game. It’s not real. I think it will be more fun on the oval, you will see more passing, you’ll see more close racing because it’s the nature of the ovals. It’s a bit more fun for us too because at least you can run in a pack.”
Q: What is the most challenging part of iRacing?
TK: “The biggest challenge is to understand what kind of equipment you have. The most difficult part for me is… you have the same car in the game, but you don’t have the same equipment at home. So that makes a huge difference. It is not just about the quality of the rig but also to understand how your rig behaves. It has different reactions. Being race car drivers, we’re used to the same thing over and over. The Indy car is the same car all the time. You change tracks and you change set-ups but the steering is the same feel, the reaction is the same and that does not happen in the game. So that is the challenge for me.”
Neither Sebastien Bourdais nor Dalton Kellett have competed at the two mile banked superspeedway but they have been practicing this week on the virtual MIS.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet): “I have been turning laps
around MIS on my own and in small groups. It is pretty easy flat on your own with fresh Firestones, but when you get past half tanks, if you catch some traffic, it gets very tricky. Much like the first two races, it will be a game of survival where managing to stay out of trouble will prove very hard. I am looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of our No. 4 Tresiba car and hope to make AJ Foyt Racing and Chevrolet proud.”
DALTON KELLETT (No. 41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet): This weekend’s race at MIS is going to be exciting, judging from the practice sessions this week. As the cars are configured, we can definitely run two-by-two at both ends of the track. I think we can expect pack-racing with tire degradation and fuel strategy coming into play. I don’t think the pack will spread out as it did during the first two rounds, so it will be a fun race to watch. Important things to focus on will be staying out of trouble and finding clean air to save the front tires.
NBCSN is set to run a 90-minute broadcast of the 85-lap Chevrolet 275 at Michigan International Speedway this Saturday afternoon starting at 2:30 p.m. ET. While enjoying the broadcast, fans can see the race from the drivers’ perspectives inside the cockpit by watching a Facebook live feed on the AJ Foyt Racing fan page. Dalton Kellett will also be showing his perspective on Twitch TV.