LONG BEACH, Calif. –Auto racing is about results but sometimes the most inspiring runs are those that can’t be defined by the boxscore.
The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach was such a race for Tony Kanaan.
Nicknamed “Ironman” because he is a triathlete in the off-season and holds the record for consecutive INDYCAR starts (now 304), Kanaan proved once again why he is deserving of the title. Starting 21st in the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet, Kanaan competed despite a sore left knee and a deeply bruised lower back, a result of his hard crash into the tire barriers during qualifying yesterday.
It didn’t help that he got rear-ended on the first lap by his teammate Matheus Leist as Kanaan swerved to avoid the crash ahead of him in Turn 3 involving Jack Harvey, Marcus Erickson and Spencer Pigot. The impact forced Leist to pit for a new nose assembly because of the damage to his left front wing. Kanaan continued on without pitting.
What Kanaan (and the team) didn’t know was that the impact broke his underwing and tore off the strake which left Kanaan with little downforce and a car that was off the pace. Still he soldiered on, fighting off eventual winner Alexander Rossi to stay on the lead lap for the first part of the race. Eventually he would get lapped when he pitted under green on lap 36 of the 85-lap event. He would get lapped again towards the end, owing more to the torrid pace set by Rossi, who lapped up to the 11th placed car. Kanaan placed 19th.
Tony Kanaan peels off his helmet after the race.
His frustration at the end of the race was evident in his post-race quote when he said, “I’m ok (physically) but I feel bad, because we don’t have it. We have to figure something out. Very disappointing, very disappointing.”