With the advent of IndyCar media days this week, Monday has been a day full of information and double announcement. A few hours after the confirmation of Tatiana Calderón as the new driver of AJ Foyt Racing, a second announcement arrived about Tony Canaan, one of the historical of the contest. The Chip Ganassi Racing team has confirmed that the Brazilian will continue with the team, but this time only as a driver a fifth car in the Indianapolis 500.
At just 47 years old, Kanaan receives a new opportunity to seek a second victory to go along with the one obtained in 2013. If he manages to pass the classification process, it will be his 21st participation in the event, which would place him as the eighth driver with the most Indy 500 races, tied with Gary Bettenhausen. In the last edition, he signed his second best finish at the Indy 500 in the last 15 years placing fifth on the grid, and finished the test in tenth position, his best result of the year.
Throughout 2021, Kanaan drove the #48 car in all four oval races, beating Jimmie Johnson’s best finish in the same car in road racing in all of them. The two-year contract contemplated an identical distribution for 2022, but Johnson opted to play the full season, which left Kanaan without a gap. After reaching an agreement with the Brazilian, Ganassi will provide him with a fifth car in Indianapolis, this being only the second time in history (2015) that the team has fielded five single-seaters in this test, but this will be his only participation of the season.
Despite the fact that two years ago he announced that 2020 would be his last season, a determination that he postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, since his contract ends this year, Kanaan pretends that this is not his last Indy 500, using his great friend and generational partner Hélio Castroneves as an example: «I rushed in three years ago when I said it was going to be ‘the last lap of TK’, here I am still spinning. I don’t have anything for next year, but I want to keep doing it, and I think I can, 100%. Look what happened to Hélio. What would happen if we won the second one, would he come back or not? I’m not going to announce anything because I don’t know. My intention is that this is not the last time, for now 2022 is just another Indy 500 for Tony.
Although his IndyCar schedule will be the most minimalist since his debut in 1998, Kanaan will not be far from idle this year. During his last two seasons, in which he was limited to an oval program, the Brazilian looked for other professional ‘hobbies’ with which to pass the time. That translates this year into 10 races of the Stock Car Pro Series brazilian, the six appointments of the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) and three additional dates in the Porsche Carrera Cup Endurance of his country.
With this announcement, there are now 31 cars and 30 drivers confirmed for the Indianapolis 500, the only car without an occupant being the third Foyt machine that Tatiana Calderón will drive on circuits, and for which Ryan Hunter-Reay seems the main candidate. In the coming months, the identity of the six drivers who will complete the more than likely number of 36 competitors will be known. The two missing Honda cars will come from Andretti and Coyne, while Chevrolet still has two more holes to add to the second Juncos driver. Candidates will not be lacking, with Stefan Wilson being one of the main ones for his support.