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Tony Kanaan finally wins Indy 500, ends heartbreak

Published May 26, 2013 7:54 pm

Kanaan takes lead with three laps to go, wins first Indianapolis 500.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Indianapolis • The hard-luck loser no more, Tony Kanaan finally won the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday — with a bit of luck, at that.

In the mix all day during a record 68 lead changes, the popular Brazilian dipped inside defending IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay on a restart with three laps to go and cruised from there under the yellow caution flag.

He flipped up his visor to wipe tears from his eyes as the crowd roared, and then poured the celebratory winner's milk over his head in Victory Lane.

"I have to say, the last lap was the longest lap of my life," Kanaan said. "I got a little bit of luck today. I was looking at the stands, and it was unbelievable. I'm speechless. This is it, man. I made it.

"It means a lot to because so many people, I could feel that they wanted me to win, and it's such a selfish thing to do because what are they getting from it? I'm the one who gets the trophy. And if you can bring some joy to them and I think the best thing was trying to put an exciting race for them. And I said it before the race, I believed that this win was more for people out there than for me."

Kanaan had his fair share of chances to win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but came up short time and time again. He was leading when the rain came in 2007, only to lose to Dario Franchitti when the race resumed.

In all, Kanaan went into Sunday's race with 221 laps led at Indy — more than any non-winner except Michael Andretti and Rex Mays — but his second-place finish to Buddy Rice in 2004 was the closest he had come to victory. He had a pair of third-place finishes, including last year, again to Franchitti.

"I wanted it all my life, but over the years I was kind of OK with the fact that I may never have the chance to win," Kanaan said. "We can disprove the theory that nice guys don't win. We proved that wrong."

This time, it was Franchitti whose crash brought out the final caution to seal Kanaan's victory.

"It's wonderful for him," said Mario Andretti, himself a victim of bad luck at Indy. "He's raced here long enough that he deserves it, no question."

The win for Kanaan and car owner Jimmy Vasser was celebrated throughout the paddock. Alex Zanardi, who came from Italy to watch the race and gave Kanaan one of his 2012 London Paralympics medals as good luck, wept behind the pit wall as Kanaan took the checkered flag.

"I tell you I'm starting to think [the medal] really works," said Zanardi, who lost his legs in a 2001 crash in Germany. "It's a dream come true to see Tony win, to see Jimmy Vasser win, my dear friend. I'm so happy, I'm so happy."

Marco Andretti finished fourth, failing to win for the eighth time, and Justin Wilson was fifth in the highest-finishing Honda on a day that was dominated by Chevrolet. Castroneves was sixth. Pole-sitter Ed Carpenter led a race-high 37 laps and finished 10th.

For a time, it appeared the win would go to AJ Allmendinger, who led 23 laps in his Indy 500 debut for Roger Penske.

Fired by Penske from his NASCAR ride last year after failing a NASCAR drug test, Allmendinger got a second chance with this IndyCar opportunity. Seven years after leaving open-wheel racing, Allmendinger finally ran "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" and was leading when his seat belt came undone, forcing him to pit.

It put Allmendinger off the pit cycle, and he was forced to stop for gas twice far in advance of the rest of the field. It meant Allmendinger had to drive his way back to the front each time, and he finally sputtered out at seventh. —

Indianapolis 500 results

Lap length: 2.5 miles

(Starting position in parentheses)

All cars Dallara chassis

1. (12) Tony Kanaan, Chevy, 200 laps.

2. (2) Carlos Munoz, Chevy, 200.

3. (7) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Chevy, 200.

4. (3) Marco Andretti, Chevy, 200.

5. (14) Justin Wilson, Honda, 200.

6. (8) Helio Castroneves, Chevy, 200.

7. (5) AJ Allmendinger, Chevy, 200.

8. (21) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 200.

9. (19) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 200.

10. (1) Ed Carpenter, Chevy, 200.

11. (13) Oriol Servia, Chevy, 200.

12. (23) Ryan Briscoe, Honda, 200.

13. (18) Takuma Sato, Honda, 200.

14. (16) Scott Dixon, Honda, 200.

15. (29) Ana Beatriz, Honda, 200.

16. (28) Tristan Vautier, Honda, 200.

17. (24) Simona De Silvestro, Chevy, 200.

18. (4) EJ Viso, Chevy, 200.

19. (6) Will Power, Chevy, 200.

20. (20) James Jakes, Honda, 199.

21. (9) James Hinchcliffe, Chevy, 199.

22. (31) Conor Daly, Honda, 198.

23. (17) Dario Franchitti, Honda, 197, contact.

24. (11) Alex Tagliani, Honda, 196.

25. (26) Graham Rahal, Honda, 193, contact.

26. (33) Katherine Legge, Honda, 193.

27. (22) Townsend Bell, Chevy, 192.

28. (25) Josef Newgarden, Honda, 191.

29. (15) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevy, 178, contact.

30. (30) Pippa Mann, Honda, 46, contact.

31. (32) Buddy Lazier, Chevy, 44, mechanical.

32. (27) Sebastian Saavedra, Chevy, 34, contact.

33. (10) JR Hildebrand, Chevy, 3, contact. Race Statistics

Winners average speed: 187.433 mph.

Time of Race: 2:40:03.4181.

Margin of Victory: under caution.

Cautions: 5 for 21 laps.

Lead Changes: 68 among 14 drivers.

Lap Leaders: Carpenter 1-8, Kanaan 9 , Carpenter 10-12, Kanaan 13-14, Andretti 15-16, Kanaan 17-20, Andretti 21-22, Kanaan 23, Andretti 24-26, Kanaan 27-28, Andretti 29, Hunter-Reay 30, Power 31-32, Jakes 33-37, Carpenter 38-42, Andretti 43, Carpenter 44-50, Andretti 51-53, Carpenter 54-58, Hunter-Reay 59-60, Andretti 61, Hunter-Reay 62-63, Carpenter 64-72, Kanaan 73-74, Power 75-88, Kanaan 89, Viso 90, Munoz 91-92, Kanaan 93-97, Allmendinger 98-111, Kanaan 112, Andretti 113-114, Kanaan 115-120, Hunter-Reay 121, Munoz 122, Tagliani 123, Bell 124, Hinchcliffe 125, Andretti 126-130, Hunter-Reay 131, Viso 132-135, Hunter-Reay 136, Allmendinger 137-142, Hunter-Reay 143-144, Castroneves 145, Andretti 146-150, Hunter-Reay 151, Munoz 152-154, Dixon 155, Hinchcliffe 156-157, Hunter-Reay 158-164, Allmendinger 165-167, Andretti 168, Hunter-Reay 169, Andretti 170, Hunter-Reay 171, Andretti 172-173, Kanaan 174, Andretti 175, Kanaan 176-177, Munoz 178, Andretti 179, Munoz 180-184, Hinchcliffe 185-188, Kanaan 189, Hunter-Reay 190, Kanaan 191-192, Hunter-Reay 193-197, Kanaan 198-200.

Points: Andretti 168, Sato 157, Castroneves 152, Hunter-Reay 138, Hinchcliffe 128, Wilson 125, Kanaan 124, Dixon 122, Servia 112, Pagenaud 108.