TK pulls no punches. (Perry Nelson/LAT photo)
Vasser believes that Kanaan has delivered exactly what was expected from him and the team is working hard to sign the Brazilian to a multi- year contract extension.
“We were looking for the sort of leadership he brought into our team,” says the 1996 CART/IndyCar champion who joined forces with Kalkhoven and Dan Pettit to form what was then PKV Racing in 2004. “Tony has got a great reputation around the paddock as being the sport's best teammate and he hasn't done anything to convince me that's not true. He's a champion and a professional. We've been working hard over the years to position ourselves with the likes of Ganassi and Penske and certainly having TK on the team is a step forward for us. The next step for us is winning races.”
Kanaan shares Vasser's belief that KVRT-Lotus is on the verge of breaking through for the team's first IZOD IndyCar Series race win. And after all of the trauma he went through in the past couple of years, it's an occasion that Kanaan looks forward to sharing with his longtime friend and former on-track rival turned team owner.
“The off-season was really rough for me, but it did me good,” Kanaan relates. “Nobody wanted to see what happened to me – and to Michael [Andretti]. He lost a sponsor and almost didn't run a fourth car this year. But maybe it was a good thing. When you spend so much time in the same place, you need something new. It's like a marriage: You get fat and you don't care anymore. Then you get divorced and suddenly you start exercising, shaving and getting your haircut…
“So now I realize it was probably time for a change and for some reason I'm having more fun than I used to. I don't think I can get into details of why, but I think there's a different atmosphere here.
“So it's been overwhelming for me; from what looked like a bad situation, things have turned out good.”
• For the full version of this feature article, plus much more, check out the September 2011 issue of RACER magazine. CLICK HERE to subscribe.