August 30, 2020

MADISON, Ill. — “Whatever happens, let’s enjoy this day. Love you guys!” radioed Tony Kanaan to his Big Machine Vodka crew on the parade lap of Race 2 of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500.

This final race of the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES for Kanaan did not have a Hollywood ending. Track position at World Wide Technology Raceway was key for most of the field with a few exceptions.

In the first segment of the 200-lapper both Kanaan and his teammate Charlie Kimball in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet were reporting understeer in their cars. The crews dialed in front wing on the first round of pit stops but the understeer persisted.

Kanaan’s crew posted solid stops all race long.

Passing was tough as Kanaan could not get around Zach Veach and lost half a lap over the course of the next 35 laps before finally pitting on lap 43.  With that loss of track position to the leaders, it wasn’t long before leader Pato O’Ward was on Kanaan’s bumper trying to put him a lap down.  However, Kanaan was able to stave off the leader for over 30 laps before pitting a second time on lap 96.

Appearing to lead the pack, Kanaan staved off leader O’Ward. (INDYCAR Photo)

Kimball was running a slightly different fuel strategy running to the end of his fuel window and his first stop came on lap 56 when he took a whole turn of front wing compared to Kanaan’s half turn. Before his second stop on lap 111, Kimball cycled up as high as fourth on the scoring tower but it was short-lived.

The Tresiba crew executed their pit stops well this weekend.

Interestingly, on the final round of stops, Kimball pitted just four laps later than Kanaan and that combined with his crew sending him off in 6.5 seconds, allowed him to jump ahead of Kanaan. They finished 18th and 19th respectively. On the cool down laps both drivers thanked their crews for great stops all of which were under green. 

Other than starting the first lap under caution to blow off the oil dry for an earlier issue on the track, the sole yellow came out with four laps to go when pole winner Takuma Sato ran high while running seventh and brushed the Turn 2 wall; he was able to continue. 

Josef Newgarden took the checkered flag under caution, as like at Indy, there wasn’t enough time left in the race to sort out the field and restart the race. Second through fifth were O’Ward, Will Power, Rinus Veekay and Scott Dixon.

“Track position was everything,” Kanaan said after climbing out of the No. 14 Chevy. “We had a pretty decent start, moved up a little bit but honestly, I think it was a pretty boring race–but it was a boring race for everyone. Mixed feelings on my last one. I wish I could have given the boys and A.J. and Big Machine a better result but the rest of the day was fun. It was a good way to end it. I want to thank my fans, my team and everyone who has been involved in this journey, my family. It’s been good. I’m done for this year but hopefully not done totally but we’ll see. My fingers are crossed that maybe I could come back for a proper last lap with my fans but for now, drop the mic.”

Kimball offers a fist bump to TK before the start of the race.

Kimball, who started 21st, summed up his race saying, “Well kind of a tough day for the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet car. We started 21st, kind of ran around there, made a couple of passes at the start and then settled into our pace. I think everyone was really struggling with passing. There wasn’t a whole lot of overtaking but I know my guys in pit lane got me at least two spots that I know of, so big ups to them as normal. They did a great job in pit lane and we’ll learn from this and move forward.”

Prior to the start of the race, team president Larry Foyt organized the entire team to pay their respects to Kanaan on the grid and what followed were a parade of emotional hugs as each crew member wished him the best. Kanaan was visibly moved by the gesture.

Foyt hugs TK as Scott Harner awaits to in line prior to the race.

Foyt said of the afternoon, “Race 2 wasn’t what we wanted, but unfortunately it was a true track position race. Starting near the back, it was next to impossible to get toward the front where we wanted to be. Both teams were great in the pits all weekend and the drivers drove hard, but we couldn’t improve as much as race 1. It was emotional near the start as the team thanked Tony and sent him off for what may be his last race in INDYCAR. I hope it isn’t, but we will see. I have enjoyed being a part of his career and whatever his future holds, I wish him all the best and much success.”