Tony Kanaan has won the 97th running Indianapolis 500. Driving for KV Racing Technology, Kanaan held over rookie Carlos Munoz and Ryan Hunter-Reay to capture his first career Indianapolis 500 victory in 12 starts at the historic track. Kanaan won the race under caution after 2012 Indianapolis 500 champion, Dario Franchitti, wrecked with three laps to go.
Kanaan’s victory is the first for him since he left Andretti-Green Racing several years back. The team, owned by 1996 CART Series champion Jimmy Vasser, locked up their first victory in the IZOD INDY Car Series since 2008. Kanaan brought his Chevrolet powered car to victory lane as the fans rallied behind him in what was a very emotional victory with tears of joy as his team poured the traditional milk over his head.
“Finally, I’m going to put my head in the face of that trophy,” said Kanaan in a post-race interview.
The race was historic for many reasons. The top-four positions were each powered by Chevrolet’s and besides that, they dominated most of the race. The 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 had a record number of leaders with 68 lead changes which is more than double of the previous record which was set last year.
Munoz was the highest-finishing rookie in the history of the Indianapolis 500 as he had a shot to win on the final restart, but just wasn’t able to quite get by Kanaan who flew underneath Hunter-Reay on the restart. Pole sitter, Ed Carpenter, led for a large portion of the beginning of the race, but his car lost some handling towards the end of the race as he finished 10th. Helio Castroneves, who was one of the favorites entering the day, came home in the sixth position.
As great of a day that it was for Andretti Autosport, they weren’t able to cap off the victory. The team had three of the top-five drivers with James Hinchcliff being the lone struggling driver for the team. They now hold the points lead with Marco Andretti who had a great car throughout the race. Penske Racing had a great day. Besides Castroneves having a strong points day, Will Power led several laps, but finished 19th. Rookie A.J. Allmendinger ended the day in seventh in his first career Indianapolis 500 start.
Kanaan’s win gives him a push towards a championship hunt, which he’s been looking for since 2004. If he wins the race at Pocono and Auto Club Speedway, Kanaan can win a million dollar bonus. However, if he only wins one of those races, he can still win $250,000. Overall, it was probably one of the most competitive, if not the most competitive Indianapolis 500 as passing was at a premium for the first time in several years, something fans have been asking for.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.