Photo: Kanaan enjoys his Indy victory quilt on the Bricks
Fifteen-year IndyCar veteran Tony Kanaan’s (KV Racking Technology) banner 2013 continues. Having notched the first Indy 500 win of his career in May, Kanaan now stands poised to break team co-owner Jimmy Vasser’s record of 211 consecutive series starts. The native of Salvador, Brazil, made his debut with CART in 1998, scoring the first of the 16 career wins the very next season. Kanaan won the Indy Racing League championship in 2004.
He and Vasser participated in a conference call to discuss this weekend’s Grand Prix of Baltimore (Sunday, 2 pm local time), which will be Kanaan’s record-breaking 212th start in a row. Selected quotes follow.
Q: Tony, what will start 212 mean to you and your career?
TONY KANAAN: Obviously, it's a great achievement. It obviously proves that I've been around for a long time, that's for sure. I didn't want to be beating one of my best friends in life and nowadays my boss, Jimmy. But I guess I get to brag about that. I guess I can't brag as much until I get to Sunday's race because Jimmy has the power not to let me start this race if he wants to.
Q: Jimmy, you said earlier that calling you Indy car racing's ironman isn't fitting because you don't compete in triathlons and when you were driving, your routine isn't the same as what the drivers do today. 212 races is an impressive feat. Being one of his good friends, as he prepares to pass you, what are your thoughts about what Tony is about to do?
JIMMY VASSER: It's a great honor to have Tony do it. He's the right guy. He's been able to, one, not get hurt too often. I think his streak would have been longer, he missed some races when he broke his wrist in Detroit. My first couple years in Indy car, we didn't do full seasons. So these are consecutive starts. It just means primarily you're able to keep a job for that many years, which is hard to do. That's a tough feat in itself.
Q: Jimmy, you guys are good friends and you've joked about it. Did you ever consider keeping your name at the top of the record books for the streak, when Tony hurt his thumb at Long Beach?
JIMMY VASSER: I suggested maybe he rest up for Indy. Our whole focus this year was at Indy. He looked at me and laughed. Just goes to show how tough he is. He's been driving through injuries, not only this year, but many times through the course of this streak. There's nobody else better. Kind of ironic that he's in the team and driving for us. I think it's a pretty cool thing. And we're doing it in Baltimore where the real Ironman Cal Ripken really built the house. It's all pretty cool.
Q: Tony, it's the third time that IndyCars have been on the streets of Baltimore. It's always a very exciting event. What kind of race do you expect this weekend on the streets of Baltimore?
TONY KANAAN: I think the races have always been exciting. I don't expect anything less. I think it's going to be heat from both sides, weather and on the track. The championship hunt, it's been crazy. A lot of guys are still wanting to win races. There are a lot of points on the line. Getting towards the end of the year, some of the drivers that haven't won yet are extremely nervous trying to get their first win of the year. I think it will be a very exciting weekend.