Tony Kanaan announces final Indianapolis 500 drive
The 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will be Tony Kanaan's final chapter in INDYCAR
2023 Arrow McLaren Indianapolis 500 driver Tony Kanaan announced this year’s race will be his last as a driver in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
Tony, a 17-time race winner in the series, made the announcement on his social media channels earlier in the day before holding a press conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There, he expressed how he came to the decision to put an end to his decorated career.
When it set in he was actually retiring from the NTT INDYCAR SERIES:
Tony Kanaan: Lauren (my wife) asked me this morning if I was prepared. What does that mean? You know what I mean…we were talking before the interview started, that I didn't think it was a big deal because I think it was kind of obvious. I'm 48. People keep saying I'm bald, I'm old, my nose is growing because it is the only thing that will never stop growing in your body, and your ears. My friends are making fun of me. [Then] the post went out. We've been preparing this for quite a while with the Arrow McLaren team. Their communications and social team have been pretty awesome. I actually held up pretty good. 9:02 my phone started to blow up. That's when it actually hit me.
Partnership with SmartStop and donning the No. 66 on his car:
TK: I want to go back a bit and talk about the history of McLaren actually. For people that know, my story with (Ayrton) Senna in Brazil, he's been my idol, the guy that was actually responsible for getting me a job in 1993 before he passed. For everything he's done in his career was with McLaren. I don't think you guys have any idea…No. 66. Bruce McLaren and McLaren won their first race in 1966. Mark Donohue was here in '72. My first go-kart number was No. 6. I picked that. My entire go-kart career, I won five championships from that, and the only time I didn't run the No. 6 I drove the No. 66. I'm excited we have also a lot of sponsors. One of our biggest sponsors is SmartStop. They're jumping in as a main sponsor. Excited about that.
When he knew he was ready to retire from the NTT INDYCAR SERIES:
TK: You're never ready for this. But you got to weigh your options. I went from a full-time to a part-time. I’m 48. I had a great career…last year was a really good one. When I finished that race, I was ready, if nothing, because it was a two-year deal that I announced my retirement two years before. The question was asked, do you think you can do it again (McLaren Racing CEO) Zak (Brown) called and I look at the results from last May. The two teams that dominated was the one that I was in and the one that was calling. So you can't refuse that.
Reflecting on how his younger self would view his career now:
TK: If I was going to follow what people told me when I was 13, on April 8th of 1988, when my dad passed, that I had to go back to school to become somebody because that dream was over, I was probably going to be, I don't know, an accountant, a lawyer, something. I just put my head down and I said, I'm going to chase my dream. Whatever is going to come out of it is going to come out of it. But at least I will sleep at night thinking, you know what, I did what I wanted to do.
His chances of winning at the 2023 Indianapolis 500:
TK: My wife asked me so many questions this morning, like: You got to put more effort into this one, is it different? That would be so unfair. Why would I? I left everything I had out there. The day that I hate the most was the Monday after, every one of them, apart from the one I won. No, I have a chance. I have a team that finished second, third and fourth last year. I have a boss that he didn't hire me just to do me a favor to retire in a good car. The mindset is still there. I'm still waking up at 4:30 in the morning working out as hard as I can. I still will be.
His emotions entering his final race:
TK: I'm probably going to be wearing sunglasses, a hat, crying like a baby on driver intros. That is expected. It's emotional enough when you're not retiring just to be part of this energy and this day, this race, let alone knowing it's your last time you're doing it. Once you put the helmet on, it's game on. It's going to be emotional when I get out of the car, regardless of position I finish. If I win, awesome. If I don't, I still think this entire place will be supporting me for it. I win either way.
What he’ll do after his ending his career as a driver in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES:
TK: I'm an INDYCAR driver, and I always will be.
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