Tony Kanaan's future in Indycar was thrown into doubt by the announcement that the primary sponsor of the #11 car, 7-Eleven, Inc. has notified Andretti Autosport that it will not continue in that role in 2011.
That means that while Kanaan's contract with Andretti Autosport has another three years to run, it's unclear if Michael Andretti's team can afford to pay him unless they can replace 7-Eleven as the main sponsor. Kanaan is due more than $3 million per season, based on the contract signed in August 2008.
"Our hope is to have Tony Kanaan and the 11 car as part of our IZOD IndyCar Series lineup again in 2011 and we are currently working very hard to find the necessary sponsorship to make that a reality," said Andretti Autosport senior vice president and chief marketing officer John Lopes.
"In the meantime,and although he remains under contract with Andretti Autosport, we have given Tony and his management the permission to talk with other team owners to explore what other alternatives might be available at this time."
The news comes just days after one of Kanaan's best runs of the season, finishing third just behind his team mate Danica Patrick at Homestead-Miami. Kanaan had one race victory this season at Iowa in June and was the team's highest placed driver in the four-car squad, finishing in sixth.
Kanaan has been with Andretti Autosport since the start of 2003 as the series transitioned from Champ Car to Indycar, winning pole position in his first appearance for the team and winning the team's first victory two weeks later at Phoenix. He has 14 championship career wins and 102 top ten finishes to his credit since his series debut in the 2002 Indianapolis 500, and won the series championship in 2004.
7-Eleven have confirmed that they will remain an associate (minor) sponsor of the #7 GoDaddy.com car driven by Patrick.