On a warm day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you could be forgiven that it was the month of May; however, on this Wednesday in February, NTT IndyCar Series veteran Tony Kanaan announced that this year’s 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 would be his last as prepares to retire from the NTT IndyCar Series. The 48-year-old will compete for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar Series team, and speaking about the announcement, the 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner said:
“It’s hard for me to say this is my final NTT INDYCAR SERIES race and Indy 500 without getting emotional, and doing so wearing No. 66 and representing iconic moments in racing history make it even more special. I’m thankful for SmartStop’s partnership for this big event.”
As Kanaan mentioned, he will drive the No.66 SmartStop Chevrolet and speaking about the news, H. Michael Schwartz, Chairman and CEO of SmartStop, said:
“Partnering with Arrow McLaren for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing and being the Primary Partner for Tony Kanaan’s final NTT INDYCAR SERIES race is an opportunity unlike any other. Tony will leave a lasting impression on this sport, and SmartStop is proud to have a part in supporting him for his final race.”
Speaking to Paddock Eye on Wednesday about joining Arrow McLaren for his last IndyCar race, and in particular his relationship with his teammates, TK said:
It’s funny because Alex and I didn’t hit off at all when he first came to the series. We actually didn’t like each other. We’re really good friends, even before I signed with McLaren.
The team, I mean, I see a lot of people willing to make this team grow. We have grown quite a bit since last year. It’s a lot. Managing people, it’s hard. I think Gavin has a lot of work on his hands with Zak. They have the right mentality. Sam is still there. We’re growing, right?
There is a lot of eyes on us. Despite the fact that people are expecting us, you have four guys, two Indy 500 winners on a team, we have to perform. So the team is working on that.
As far as the guys, it was funny, we went to dinner at Thermal, I was there, got to know Pato a little more. I felt like I was talking to my 15-year-old kid the entire dinner. He’s showing me, Look at this text, look at this picture.
Oh, man, this reminds me…
Then he remind me of Dan, as well. He’s asking me a million questions. In your time, what would you…
I’ve known Felix when he was at Ganassi, and Felix is still Felix.
Can you give me a ride?
Yes. You don’t have a car?
Yes, I have a car, but I don’t know where I parked it.
That’s Felix for you. He did not know. We had to drive around the parking lot. He had the alarm key, pressing it.
What kind of car is it?
I don’t know.
Felix, it’s on the key, it’s a brand.
I think we’re going to hit it off. He and Pato are really close. Rossi is more of the wiseguy and quiet, but has a funny sense ever humor, which is cool. It mingles well. I’m enjoying it a lot.
I’m known as not having any problems with my teammates. But we have a good bunch.