Tony Kanaan is known for his NTT IndyCar Series exploits as the 2004 champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner. While he currently competes in Stock Car Brasil, he is keen on trying out American stock cars. In an exclusive interview with Brazilian motorsport publication Grande Prêmio, he revealed he is in talks to run two NASCAR road course races in 2022. Kanaan did not specify a team nor series, but added that Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar team-mate and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is assisting with negotiations.
“There is an opportunity, still very remote, it’s still too early to say, but to do at least two NASCAR races on the road circuits here in the United States, especially now that I’m doing Stock Car,” Kanaan told Grande Prêmio.
Kanaan is no stranger to closed-wheel racing, winning the 2015 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona overall and dabbling in the Superstar Racing Experience. Prior to joining Ganassi’s IndyCar programme in 2014, he had a meeting with NASCAR powerhouse Joe Gibbs Racing about potentially racing in the now-Xfinity Series before graduating to the Cup Series, though no contract offer came.
Since retiring from full-time IndyCar racing in 2020, Kanaan returned to his native Brazil to race in Stock Car Brasil for Full Time Bassani. After placing thirty-second in the 2021 standings, he currently sits seventeenth in points with a best race finish of eleventh at the Autódromo Internacional Ayrton Senna. His team-mate for the multi-driver Corrida de Duplas races (such as at José Carlos Pace) is Pietro Fittipaldi, a fellow IndyCar driver and former NASCAR regional series champion.
Due to his SCB obligations, a NASCAR start would have to avoid clashing with said series. For example, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course slate on 31 July–1 August appears to be an obvious choice for NASCAR, but it is on the same weekend as SCB’s race at Autódromo José Carlos Pace. The Cup and Xfinity road races at Road America (2/3 July) also conflicts with Stock Car Brasil’s Velopark race.
Conversely, Portland International Raceway (4 June), Sonoma Raceway (11/12 June), Watkins Glen International (20/21 August), and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (8/9 October) are on off-weekends for SCB. The Camping World Truck Series‘ 9 July date at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is also an open date. Kanaan previously won at Sonoma in IndyCar.
“There are several factors for this to happen,” he continued. “The main thing is that I don’t have any conflicts with my calendar for this year, which is already completely full. Stock car racing (in Brazil) is a priority, so we’re trying to fit in.”
The interview comes just a day after another open-wheel-to-NASCAR migration was revealed in the form of 2007 Formula One World Champion Kimi Räikkönen announcing his Cup début at Watkins Glen.