When in doubt, go Portuguese to win “Celebrity Family Feud.”
Longtime Brazilian friends Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves benefited from speaking their own language as a Verizon IndyCar Series five-driver team shut out a group of Sports Illustrated swimsuit models in the episode of the popular game show that aired Sunday night on ABC.
Never underestimate the competitiveness of a driver. Castroneves was team captain, but didn’t know much about how to play the game. So Kanaan, a Chip Ganassi Racing rival on the track, got the team started by mouthing the Portuguese word for “thong.” Castroneves gave the answer.
Survey says … Ding! The drivers were off and running. Castroneves, Kanaan, Will Power, James Hinchcliffe and Conor Daly weren’t going to be denied.
.@IndyCar stars are the happiest contestants @IAmSteveHarvey has ever seen! #CelebrityFamilyFeud https://t.co/6ub6c4xyW3
“We don’t like to lose,” Kanaan said, smiling. “First of all, you’re putting five race car drivers competing against someone else. We don’t want to lose. We hate losing. That group of guys were funny, so I knew that if we lost, the show was going to be funny as hell because of our answers.
“Sure enough, we came in and the atmosphere started to kick in, we knew each other real well and they didn’t really hang as close as we did. So we started to intimidate the models right away. And we actually broke into (host) Steve Harvey because he’s a comedian and he made fun of Helio because he couldn’t understand what Helio was saying.”
Castroneves, the three-time Indianapolis 500 champion from Team Penske, cleverly referred to the TK tactic as “good strategy.”
“That’s a very polite way of saying TK bailed him out,” said the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver.
Power added, “Helio didn’t have a clue, it was just Kanaan bailing him out. He pretty much bailed him out every time.”
An amused Castroneves feigned ignorance.
“I don’t know what Will is talking about,” Castroneves said of his Team Penske teammate. “Will is out of control. You know Will, he’s listening and seeing a lot of things that nobody sees.”
Although the quick-thinking Power was mumbling correct answers that his teammates could hear throughout the game, Kanaan and Hinchcliffe were the team “ringers.” They’ve watched the show and knew how to play.
“But Helio was first, ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ team captain whatever, nice hair,” said Kanaan, shaking his head. “I was second, so the first time Helio hit the buzzer and had to give an answer, he turns around and we have the advantage that I speak Portuguese and he does, too, and nobody else does. So, bam, right there I mouthed the word, not loud, and he knew exactly and nobody else knew.”
A mischievous grin was suddenly replaced by momentary concern.
“We’re going to lose the game now that they know,” Kanaan said of the secret.
The fear quickly subsided and he said, “No, they can’t take away our title.”
Castroneves’ “coaching” actually began before the show.
“In the pregame briefing, it was basically a re-creation of a (race weekend) drivers meeting because every 37 seconds, Helio had a question and inevitably it was a question about something that had been talked about two minutes prior,” Hinchcliffe said. “And this was the captain of our team. So we’re sitting there in the briefing and the models are thinking, ‘This is their captain? This is the guy in charge? We’re looking fine.’”
Little did they know.
“You get five competitive people in an environment like that, we’re cutthroat on the racetrack, but we had to play ball if we were going to win and that’s what we did,” Hinchcliffe said.
“They scored zero points,” Kanaan said of the models.
“It was a fun deal, but the girls got beaten so badly, they weren’t happy,” Power said.
At one point, the playful Power did some break-dance back spinning, which prompted one of the models to scoff, “You guys just want attention.”
“We’re just winners,” Kanaan said.
That they were in the “fast money” round, too, as TK and Hinch won $25,000 for the Indy Family Foundation.
“As the two experienced Feuders, TK and I were selected and we smashed it out of the park,” Hinchcliffe said, although Kanaan’s peculiar answer of “Titanic” when asked to name a famous Oscar still has his teammates scratching their heads.
.@TonyKanaan Nice recovery, but #OscarTitanic shall live in infamy. #FamilyFeud #IndyCar pic.twitter.com/nwEsQD5iUa
Castroneves is sticking to his non-disclosure story about the “help.”
“Whatever we did, we did a very good strategy between all five guys,” he said. “I feel like if there was a championship on ‘Family Feud,’ this team should be back.”
To watch the episode, which begins with a contest between former contestants of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” click here. And to catch some behind-the-scenes preparation by the drivers, click here.
On behalf of the @IndyFamilyFnd TY to @Hinchtown @ConorDaly22 @h3lio @TonyKanaan @12WillPower for dominating Family Feud!
Heard my fellow @indycar drivers crushed it on @FamilyFeudABC. Nice work fellas!
Hope you guys enjoyed @FamilyFeudABC ! So much fun, @TonyKanaan and I bonded like never before. #TeamIndycar pic.twitter.com/N1bH4scCQw
.@TonyKanaan shows @ConorDaly22 his appreciation!
😊 #CelebrityFamilyFeud pic.twitter.com/gj66MEwhNv