INDIANAPOLIS – Tony Kanaan has two dates lined up for what he hopes is a rendezvous with destiny in Sunday’s 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
First is Lady Luck. Kanaan hopes her evil twin – misfortune – stays away and that he can add to his 2013 win in the 500.
Kanaan’s other date is with Indianapolis Motor Speedway itself.
“I think this track will pick the winner,” Kanaan said, adding with a smile, “so if I massage her and talk to her nicely, maybe she’ll pick me on Sunday.”
Kanaan and Carlos Munoz were fastest at today’s Miller Lite Carb Day, the final practice session and tune-up for Sunday’s milestone event.
CLICK HERE: Carb Day practice results: Combined practice results
Kanaan, who will start on the outside of Row 6 Sunday in the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, had a best lap of 226.280 mph. Munoz was second at 224.772 mph on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, just ahead of Kanaan’s teammate, Scott Dixon, third at 224.606 mph in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.
“I’m happy with my car,” Kanaan said. “Obviously, I have to pass 17 people before I get really happy with my car.
“After the struggle in qualifying, we really focused – me and (Scott) Dixon – on the race. And you can see both of us at the top there.”
Then, almost as if he was throwing down the gauntlet, Kanaan added, “If anybody counts us out, it will be a big mistake.”
Munoz, who will start the race from the middle of the second row, said Carb Day practice confirmed the strength of his No. 26 United Fiber & Data Honda.
“Today was just a check to see the car was running good,” Munoz said. “Everything was running good. The conditions will be different on Sunday. Every practice and qualifying I’ve been on the top of the charts, but that doesn’t matter.”
Verizon IndyCar Series points leader Simon Pagenaud, riding a three-race winning streak, was 22nd in today’s practice with a speed of 222.581 in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevy.
Juan Pablo Montoya, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion and two-time race winner, was 13th at 223.571 mph in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevy. Teammate Helio Castroneves, the three-time Indy 500 winner, was 10th at 223.959 mph.
In addition to being happy with his car, Kanaan was impressed by the large turnout for Carb Day.
“I’ve been here for 15 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said. “I hope this is the big jump we need to bring the 500 back to where it belongs, and we can gain new fans this year so they can come back for many more years to come.
“I never thought I’d be competing in the 100th Indy 500. That never even crossed my mind. I’m happy with my car and hope we can put on a good show for all the people paying to come here.”
Because he’ll start mid-pack in the 33-car field, Kanaan said he’ll go into Sunday’s race without an initial strategy.
“I don’t have a plan,” he said. “If a gap opens, I’m going to go for it. People are going to be extremely impatient. Being extra cautious isn’t going to be a bad thing. And after the last (pit) stop, it’s time to go. That’s when the race really begins.”
Will Power, runner-up to Montoya in last year’s race, had the fourth-fastest speed (224.384 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Ryan Hunter-Reay was fifth (224.327) in the No. 28 DHL Honda.
Pole sitter James Hinchcliffe was 12th fastest at 223.925 mph in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda.
More than 1,300 laps were turned in the 70-minute session, with Pagenaud and Charlie Kimball (No. 42 Tresiba Chevy) each logging 52.
The only incident of the session came when Pippa Mann spun and crashed in Turn 4, backing her No. 63 Susan G. Komen Honda into the outside wall. Mann was uninjured.
“I’m absolutely fine,” Mann said. “I just really feel sorry for the crew. I was trying to find some clean air in pack running there, got a little too low on the inside. Dropped the ball and gave them some work to do overnight.
“The good news is the damage wasn’t too bad,” Mann added. “Hopefully it’s the right rear corner, rear attenuator, rear wing and that’s all we have to fix.”
The 33 cars now sit idle until Sunday’s epic race. Coverage on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network begins at 11 a.m. ET Sunday.