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Tony Kanaan Ruffles Feathers En Route to Runner-up at Texas

Tony Kanaan may have left the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 with a runner-up finish, but he has fewer friends. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver was involved in a pair of accidents, with his rivals believing he was to blame.

“Apparently I got blamed for all of them, got a penalty, paid a penalty, and we finished second,” he said. “So I guess it is what it is. It was a pack race, and I expressed my feelings about that, but yeah, tough night. Very intense from the first lap to the last lap. I’m glad it’s over.”

Running up front at Lap 38, he would go three-wide with Alexander Rossi and Scott Dixon, with contact from Kanaan resulting in Rossi spinning and hitting the turn three SAFER Barrier.

Then later on in the race at Lap 151, he would move down while three-wide with James Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin, causing Hinchcliffe to spin and collecting seven other cars. Kanaan’s boss Chip Ganassi tried to place blame on Hinchcliffe, saying he should have backed out and called the Canadian out for an incident on pit road earlier in the race.

“That’s adorable,” Hinchcliffe said in response to Ganassi. “We had a run on (Tony Kanaan), and he had plenty of room on the left, but he just came to the right. If you look at the replay, he comes all the way from the white line to the middle of the racetrack, just pinched me into Mikhail (Aleshin). Either his spotter didn’t tell him we were three wide or what, but I couldn’t go anywhere, I was sandwiched in the middle.

“I was not expecting him to do that; Tony has more experience in this kind of pack racing than anybody. I went wheel-to-wheel with him last year for the win and nine times out of 10 would do that all day long, but for whatever reason, he wasn’t playing very nice today and wrecked a lot of good equipment.”

INDYCAR officials handed Kanaan a 20-second stop and hold penalty for blocking and avoidable contact, as a result. Kanaan admitted his mistake post-race, stating that he was going to apologize to Hinchcliffe later on.

In the last 50 circuits of the event, he was able to get his lap back, fighting back to the front for a runner-up. Though leaving the two-mile oval, the focus was rather on Kanaan’s aggressive driving style.

“I don’t do those kinds of things,” he said. “I race people clean, and I want people to race me clean. It was an honest mistake. You never — especially in a place like this, you don’t crash people on purpose, and you don’t do — I’ve been around it way too long to do any silly things like that, and if I did, it was a mistake, and I apologize for it. Obviously, I had to pay that in the pits for the longest 20 seconds of my life.”

The drive to succeed for Kanaan could come from a lack of noted success as of recent, with this marking his first top-three finish of 2017, and the sixth podium in his last 41 Verizon IndyCar Series as he tries to break a winless streak dating back to Auto Club Speedway in August 2014.

The pressure could also be increasing with his teammate Scott Dixon running up front this year with six top-fives, while Max Chilton scored a fourth at the Indianapolis 500. In contrast, Kanaan has failed to match their numbers with only a pair of top-fives in 2017.

He will hope to keep the momentum rolling, and break into victory lane at Road America in two weeks after posting a runner-up last year.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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By Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.