KANAAN'S CHARMED VICTORY
Tony Kanaan's popular win at Indy today was aided by an assortment of medals and jewelry meant to bring the Brazilian good luck. Whether those items affected the outcome of the race or simply made for a nice story is open for interpretation, but the extra support clearly meant something to the 38-year-old.
“I didn't have enough pockets for all the things my fans gave me to bring me luck,” he said shortly after the race. “I probably have to bring a truck with me behind the car. There was two things. Zanardi is here, as you know. He brought his Olympic gold medal. Right before the race, he gave it to [KV Racing co-owner] Jimmy [Vasser], Jimmy brought it to the bus. I was laying in bed. It was an hour before [the race]. Jimmy said, ‘Zanardi asked you to rub it.' I actually cuddled with the thing. Still in my bus.
“Nine years ago, I went to make a visit in a hospital here in Indy. When I walked in, there was this girl. She was 14 years old. She just had a stroke. She was in a coma. She was going to get a surgery the next morning. I had this thing that my mom gave me. It was kind of a necklace to protect me, not to bring me luck, because you know the way moms are. She tells me to race slow, which is kind of stupid, but...
“So I took it out and I said to her mother, I don't know if you believe in these things, but I had this for a while. It always protects me. My mother gave it to me. I want to give it to you. She was like a life risk. I gave it to her. She survived. She is doing really well. We kept in touch in the past years. This year, four days ago, she showed up, gave me a letter with an envelope. I opened the letter. Here it was. She said that she had enough of luck in her life, she got married, and she wanted to give it back to me to bring me luck. So here it is. I think I'll retire that thing now.”
CAN YOU SPARE A DOLLAR FOR AN INDY 500 WINNER?
As RACER first reported at Brazil, Kanaan's No. 11 car is without a sponsor for a handful of races this June. Jimmy Vasser provided an update after the race on where the situation stands and whether he thinks KV's Indy 500 win might help close the funding gap at a faster rate.
“Texas, Iowa, Pocono and Mid-Ohio (in August),” JV told RACER. “Four races. In June, those are the higher-value races on ABC. We're in for the long haul; we wouldn't risk not showing up and jeopardizing our Leader Circle standing, and Tony's in a contract year so we want to get things done early. He doesn't want to wait for a new contract to come late into the year.
“And now we can make some deals. Texas is a race he runs up front all the time. He's always good at Iowa. Pocono should be awesome. I hope our victory today will make it easy to sell sponsorships for those events. He's a hell of a driver.”
GANASSI GOES GRAND-AM FOR BRISCOE
32 of the 33 pits crews in today's race fit perfectly into the event, while one, the No. 8 NTT Data team supporting Ganassi Racing's Ryan Briscoe, spent the afternoon working in the opposite direction of what they're accustomed to at Indy.
Ganassi's Grand-Am Rolex Series team, which competed at IMS last year on the road course that runs counter to the oval, serviced Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas in the No. 01 Riley-BMW Daytona Prototype and had no problem turning around towards Turn 1 to handle Briscoe.
“Really, the racing part of it is no different because racing at any top level, it's still just a race car, you've still got to go through basically the same kind of procedures,” said Ganassi's Tim Keene, who leads its GRAND-AM team and handled strategy for the Aussie in the No. 8. “At the end of the day make sure everything is right. It's been a lot of work. I mean, we crossed the finish line at Road Atlanta and they were crossing the T's and dotting the I's on the contracts to make this Briscoe deal happen, so it was pretty cool.”
The talent pool among road racing crew members usually involves a fair bit of crossover between open-wheel and sports cars, making the transition for Ganassi's Rolex Series team easier than if Keene was forced to train his DP crew to handle an Indy car for the first time.
“All these guys are solid and a lot of them have done IndyCar in the past so it wasn't new to all of them,” he explained. “We've been doing tons and tons of pit stop practice just getting back in that mold of how quick you actually have to be changing tires in the series. But it's been good. We've actually got... our biggest problem is deciding who to pick because everybody's doing a really good job and I can only have four tire changers and I've got about seven right now that are doing a really good job. You're not necessarily hurting anyone's feelings but everybody wants to do it, everybody wants to be over the wall that's trying out, but unfortunately, like I said, you can only pick so many.”
Even with Briscoe and the DP serving as a one-off for Indy, Keene made it very clear that a healthy rivalry exists between both factions of the Ganassi camp.
“Yeah, I mean, you're always wanting to beat everybody,” he said with a smile. “If you're in racing, you've got a competitive spirit. You want to beat the other guys. Yeah, we want to beat the IndyCar guys if we can. I mean, absolutely. It's good and spirited but everybody's… you want to beat the other guy. If you didn't, you probably shouldn't be in this business.”
Keene also found humor in how one of Ganassi's biggest foes in Grand-Am has direct ties to its Indy 500 program for Briscoe.
“It's kind of ironic that one of our biggest rivals, Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor who race against us in DP, just happen to be Ryan's manager as well…”
Briscoe's day wasn't half bad, improving from 23rd to 12th with the help of quick pit stops throughout the event.
DIFFERENT DAYS FOR CHEVY AND HONDA
Honda's big surprise on Race Day at the 2012 Indy 500 was nowhere to be found in 2013. The Honda Performance Development team looked like they had something for Chevy on Carb Day, but it simply didn't appear when it mattered most. Instead, Chevy won its first Indy 500 since 2002, bookending one Brazilian's win for the Bowtie with a naturally aspirated V8 (Helio Castroneves) with a Brazilian scoring his first-ever Indianapolis win using an Ilmor-built twin-turbo V6.
"Congratulations to Tony Kanaan and the No. 11 Chevrolet-powered KV Racing Technology team for winning the 2013 Indianapolis 500,” said GM motorsports boss Jim Campbell. “Tony drove a great race, and the team executed flawlessly. Their total focus was on driving to the front of the field. Tony and the No. 11 team demonstrated tremendous teamwork, perseverance and a never-give-up-attitude all day.”
The marque claimed P1-P4, P6-P7 and P10, leaving Honda three spots in the top 10 (Dale Coyne Racing's Justin Wilson was the top Honda performer in fifth).
"It was a disappointing result,” said HPD president Art St. Cyr. “Everyone at HPD and our partner teams worked extremely hard to score our 10th consecutive Indy win today, but it just wasn't in the cards. Several of our teams produced strong finishing runs, but track position and other events hindered their efforts. Congratulations to Tony Kanaan, a long time Honda driver earlier in his career, on his well-deserved victory today. Days like this make us even more determined to improve in the future. We need to take a good look at everything that took place during our time at Indianapolis, and see what we can do to produce a more successful effort next week at Belle Isle.”
Honda-powered entries led just seven of the 200 laps on Sunday, and although Simon Pagenaud raced his way into the top 5 for a brief period, Chevy was in a league of its own.
If Chevy's stranglehold on the 2013 event wasn't impressive enough on its own, no engine failures were experienced during the race by either manufacturer, which must be a record of some sort in an era with multiple manufacturers competing at the Speedway. Buddy Lazier experienced an electronics issue in his Chevy, but the 1996 Indy 500 winner pulled in before it worsened.
HOLLOW RESULTS FOR GANASSI
Where were the red cars on Sunday? Somewhere between Understeerville and Oversteerland.
Defending race winner Dario Franchitti held onto his car for as long as possible, but eventually kissed the wall with just a few laps left to run. His teammate Scott Dixon was better at times, but both Target entries lacked the speed and handling to break out of the middle of the running order.
“I was kind of at the back [of the pack] most of the time; just problems after problems, really,” said Dixon, the 2008 Indy 500 winner. “The car speed-wise, I think, was OK early on in the race. I thought we'd be looking pretty decent, and then we plain ran out of gear. We couldn't pass anybody. I'd get to the back of them, then I'd be on the (rev) limiter. I couldn't go anywhere. It's just one of those days. We tried seeing if we could put some downforce in to see if we could just get closer and see if some of the cars go off if the day got a bit hotter. But that didn't work out, either.
“Then we lost the left [gearshift] paddle, so I couldn't downshift. I think we just missed on gears a little bit. There's such a tow when you're behind somebody. When you're out front by yourself, it's something totally different. It's just part of it.”
Franchitti's account of his event wasn't much better – especially after an uncharacteristic crash.
“Sums up our day,” said the three-time Indy winner. “Our car was never really good all day. In traffic, we couldn't make anything happen. It was loose in the middle, big understeer. The guys tried something, and we didn't take tires. I was just going backward, sliding around on those old tires. I went into the first corner on the last restart, and it just didn't turn and then the hit.
“A big old hit. When I saw who was leading (Kanaan), it cheered me up a little bit. Great, just phenomenal that Tony won. We had a crap day. We were never in contention, but I'm just so happy he won. He's a very, very deserving winner.”
The Target drivers head to Detroit next weekend with Dixon eighth in points and Franchitti in 17th. Their counterparts from the “G2” Ganassi operation came away with the best results for the team with Charlie Kimball in ninth and the aforementioned Briscoe in 12th.
DISAPPOINTMENT FOR THE WOMEN OF INDY
Four women started this year's 500, but the Brickyard wasn't particularly concerned about promoting gender equality once the green flag waved.
Only Dale Coyne Racing's Ana Beatriz, who came from 29th to finish 15th, got through unscathed. Simona de Silvestro wasn't particularly fast and also served a drive-through penalty on lap 43 which set her KV Racing entry back. She'd recover to place 17th.
Dale Coyne Racing's Pippa Mann would start and finish 30th after getting bottled up behind Graham Rahal on a restart and sliding up into the wall, and Katherine Legge, who started 33rd and last, also found the wall, losing seven laps as her Schmidt Peterson team replaced a bent toe link.
The Champ Car veteran would place 26th, four spots behind where she finished on her Indy 500 debut in 2012.