Kanaan: I can honour Dario
20 December 2013
Tony Kanaan has said that he intends to honour friend and rival Dario Franchitti every time he steps into the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car next season.
The Brazilian, who succeeds Franchitti in the #10 after the Scot was advised to retire following his massive crash in Houston towards the end of the 2013 IndyCar Series season, admitted that he found it hard to believe the way things had played out in recent weeks, but was delighted to be handed the chance to continue the legacy of the Ganassi entry which Franchitti took to three of his four championship titles and two out of three Indy 500 victories.
"The day of my announcement [as driver of the #10], was the day Dario said 'this [retirement] is real',” Kanaan acknowledged, “It's kind of funny how the story was written.
“To be honest with you, I was thinking about it the other day. If there's a funny way to look at it, when Dan [Wheldon] went upstairs, he found the book of the story of our lives - and he found a page and changed it. He wrote this [scenario] down. It's just unbelievable. The three last guys on the [Borg-Warner] trophy and the three last guys who drove the #10 car.
“For me, at this point of my career, to get the opportunity like that, it wasn't in my mind. It was a difficult day, just watching Dario, but he does such a good job. I wouldn't be able to handle myself without crying, but he was talking to all his friends. I know that I can honour him every time I drive his car."
Franchitti confirmed that, until Kanaan was confirmed in the #10 for 2014, there was always the thought at the back of his mind that perhaps his career wasn't over, despite being warned that another blow to the head could have serious repercussions following the concussion he sustained in the Houston shunt. With his friend installed alongside long-time team-mate Scott Dixon, however, the Scot's attention now turns to finding a way to remain involved in the sport that has given him so much.
“I spent two days kind of thinking 'how can I get 'round this?',” Franchitti admitted, “ In 2003, I drove with a broken back in one race, till Dr [Terry] Trammell found out and got upset with me. I've driven with a few broken body parts over the years, [and] I thought 'there's got to be some kind of a way, some negotiation here', but there wasn't.
“Realising and being told that I wasn't going to be able to race anymore, that was a whole different stage. It's that old thing of you don't know what you've got, right? Pretty quickly, I realised how much I was going to miss doing what I do. Just little things like working with engineers, phoning [engineer Chris] Simmons up, giving him a hard time, going in the shop and complaining about my seat….
“I'd love to stay involved in IndyCar racing, certainly with the Target team, everybody involved in that. That's something we're working on. We're working to make that happen. Hopefully, that will come along soon and I can start really getting involved and working with the team, continuing that.
“I've already been doing that, been upstairs giving the engineers a hard time, they've been giving me a hard time. TK's phone has already been burned out. I've got this idea. He's like 'Oh, good'. I've had a lot of time to think. It's something I really want to do, so we're working to make that happen.”
Mike Hull, managing director at Target Chip Ganassi Racing, confirmed that there would be a role for Franchitti within the team.
"Dario's career is going to continue. It will just continue in a different way,” he noted, “What he has been lucky to do is live his life in reverse. When you live your whole life, people tell you as you get older that, when you retire, you're going to get a chance to do the things you never got to do. Dario has defied that logic and he's done all the things on the front end of his life.
“Now he's going to get to do some even greater things. We're planning on him being part of us at Target Chip Ganassi Racing and we think we're going to accomplish a lot more because he's part of who we are."