Tony Kanaan has announced today that he will step back from the NTT IndyCar Series at the end of the 2020 season, with the Brazilian set to compete part-time in the five oval races that make up the calendar. The IndyCar veteran will continue to race for A.J. Foyt Racing in what he is calling the “TK Last Lap”.
Kanaan, who began racing in IndyCar back in 1998, stated today that he “not done with racing” and has not ruled out a potential return in the future to race in the Indianapolis 500.
The 45-year-old made his announcement today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the site of arguably the biggest accomplishment of his career; his 2013 Indianapolis 500 victory.
“I look back at all these years racing in INDYCAR and the first thing that comes to my mind is how fortunate I’ve been to be in the top level of the sport for this long. I walked into this sport as a 23-year-old with lots of hopes and dreams and I can say, without a doubt, that I accomplished everything I wanted,” Kanaan said today. “I’m 45 now; I have fans, wins, podiums, records, a championship and an Indy 500. I feel and know I can still do this for a long time, but like everything else in life there is also a cycle in racing. For a long time, I’ve been asked when I would retire, and my answer was always the same: The day I wake up in the morning and feel like I can’t do this anymore, that’s when I’m going to retire.
“Unfortunately, there are other things one should take into consideration when planning the future, and probably the most important one is what are the options that are available. For 2020, my best option was to race the five ovals of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, the sport that gave me so much and that I will always love. I’m not done with racing, that’s for sure. I decided that this year I would step back a bit and enjoy these five races, have time for my family [wife Lauren, sons Leonardo, Max and Deco, and daughter Nina] and my fans, and also give back to the sponsors that always stood by me.”
Since starting in IndyCar with Tasman Motorsports in 1998, Kanaan has racked up seventeen race victories, fifteen pole positions and seventy-eight podium finishes in his three hundred and seventy-seven races. He also, of course, took the 2004 series championship and, as previously mentioned, the 2013 Indianapolis 500 victory.
Kanaan’s last race victory came back in 2014 at Auto Club Speedway whilst in his first season racing with Chip Ganassi Racing. He would take numerous podium finishes for the squad in the following years, before moving to A.J. Foyt Racing for the start of the 2018 season.
Since then, it would be fair to say that things have not gone how either Kanaan or A.J. Foyt Racing would have wanted. Of the thirty-four races that have taken place over the last two years, Kanaan has finished in the top ten on just eight occasions. His best result came at Gateway Motorsports Park last year, where Kanaan took third-place after a late caution mixed up the running order.
With all four of Kanaan’s top ten finishes last season having come on ovals, there is still hope that Tony can end his IndyCar career with a flourish. After a fantastic career that has lasted over two decades, one final victory would undoubtedly be one of his sweetest.
Kanaan’s season will begin with the Indianapolis 500 in May and will continue in June at Texas Motor Speedway. Tony’s third race of his “farewell tour” will see him and the IndyCar Series return to Richmond Raceway, where Kanaan took victory in 2008. Kanaan’s final two races will take place at Iowa Speedway in July and at Gateway Motorsports Park in August.
The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series will kick-off with the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 15. The 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place later in the season on Sunday, May 24.