Although he’s not running a full calendar of events this year, Tony Kanaan has confirmed that this year’s lighter schedule is not intended to be his last in IndyCar.
The veteran has been running in America’s top open wheel series since 1998, when he joined the CART World Series with Tasman Motorsports. Kanaan has continued racing full-time all the way through last season, racking up a championship and an Indianapolis 500 win along the way.
When Kanaan announced his part-time schedule for this season back in January, and he branded his season as TK Last Lap, it was assumed that this would move on from IndyCar once his abbreviated season was over. But he clarified today that he was still looking for opportunities past this year, and expects to be running the 2021 Indy 500 as well as one or two other races.
“I still have plans to do a few races next year,” said Kanaan. “The message was the TK Last Lap was, I’m slowing it down, I’m not going to be a full-time INDYCAR driver any more. I never really had the intention to say, ‘That’s it, I’m leaving.’
“Obviously a lot of things need to fall in place. My intentions are to come back in a smaller degree, do maybe the [Indy] 500 only or maybe two races, one before the 500 and the 500. I still have a lot of sponsors there that want me to come.”
Kanaan also revealed that not only will he have a new livery for this weekend’s double-header race from Iowa Speedway, he will also be the race’s Grand Marshal and will give the command to start the engines from his seat behind the wheel.
Talking about that special honor, Kanaan said, “That’s so cool. I’ve been getting so much back. It’s amazing. It’s an honor.
“It’s something that it’s hard for me because I’m very emotional. I’m going to have to actually hold my breath because I’m really easy to get emotional when people are doing stuff and I actually knowing that. I’m glad I’m doing from inside the car, to be honest.
“I’m excited. It’s one of those things that I didn’t expect it at all. I think it was a nice gesture. I can’t wait.”
Kanaan helped design the new red and white livery that will be on his #14 AJ Foyt entry courtesy of longtime sponsor Bryant Heating & Cooling. On the sidepods will also be the phrase ‘Whatever it takes’, embodying Kanaan’s mentality throughout the years.
The 45-year-old also revealed that even with back to back races in hot temperatures, the mental fatigue will be tougher than the physical fatigue. He has always prided himself on his physical preparedness and hopes to see that as an advantage this weekend.
Kanaan will get the chance to get reacclimated to the car on Friday, when practice begins at the 7/8-mile oval of Iowa Speedway at 14:00 Eastern Time (19:00 BST) before the first race that evening at 21:00 Eastern Time (Sunday 2:00 BST).