27 May 2013
Thrilled Kanaan finally joins the Indy greats
Tony Kanaan reveals what it's like to win one of the biggest prizes in world motorsports - one that he's dreamed about clinching for more than a decade - and which is now his.
There are few people more popular in motor sports than Tony Kanaan. Hard as nails on the track, one of the nicest guys you'll meet off it, everyone was genuinely delighted he had finally achieved a life's dream.
No matter who you were supporting in the 2013 Indianapolis 500, chances are that when the the chequered flag came out at the end of the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday you were as delighted as everyone else watching that Tony Kanaan had finally become an Indianapolis 500 champion.
"I'm speechless. This is it, man. I made it," he said after clinching a long-awaited dream victory in the race he wanted to win more than any other. "Finally they're going to put my ugly face on this trophy!"
Everyone was lining up to shake the 38-year-old Brazilian racer's hand and congratulate him on his long-sought-after success. It's taken 12 attempts to get here, and in the end he was also slightly fortunate to he helped out by a yellow caused by his old friend Dario Franchitti at just the right moment. But none of that matters now: only the win does.
"I got a little bit of luck today," he said. "It's for the fans. It's for my dad that's not here. But mainly for all of you guys. I was looking at the stands, and it was unbelievable.
"We were known for not winning, and now we are winning," he added. "I don't know what to say."
As well as his wife Lauren, his car owner Jimmy Vasser and the whole KV Racing Technology crew, Kanaan also had the backing of a sporting legend as it emerged that London Paralympics gold medalist Alex Zanardi had been in his corner on race day and even offered some golden assistance to Kanaan's Indy campaign.
"Alex Zanardi gave us some luck today," explained Vasser. "He gave us his gold medal from London and told us, 'Rub this all over the car.' Tony took the medal to his motorhome with him for an hour."
"I actually cuddled with the thing," laughed Kanaan. "Still in my bus!"
"I tell you, I'm starting to think it really works, it's profitable," quipped Zanardi. "I might put it up for sale!"
Zanardi - who'd been in Indianapolis for a special Friday presentation of his 1996 Laguna Seca race-winning car from Chip Ganassi - was delighted that he'd been on hand to see his friend achieve a lifetime's ambition on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"It's fantastic," said the Paralympian. "It's a dream come true to see Tony win, to see Jimmy Vasser win, my dear friend. We couldn't believe it. I'm so happy. I'm so happy."
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