Notes: Kanaan replaces Bourdais for 24 Hours of Le Mans

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Move over, Fernando Alonso. Someone else is going after the second leg of racing’s career triple crown.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Tony Kanaan, winner of the 2013 Indianapolis 500, was named today by CGR to replace the injured Sebastien Bourdais in one of the team’s Ford GT’s for next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Kanaan will be stepping into the car that Bourdais co-drove to victory at Le Mans a year ago.

Alonso gathered worldwide attention in his attempt to win the 101st Indianapolis 500 in his first attempt on Sunday. The two-time Formula One champion led 27 laps but his bid to add an Indy 500 victory to his two triumphs in F1’s Monaco Grand Prix fell 20 laps short with a mechanical failure. Only Graham Hill has completed the career triple crown of winning at Monaco, Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500.

Kanaan, 42, had made it known that he wanted to attempt the famous 24-hour endurance race for the first time, but admitted in a Twitter video post today that he didn’t want to do it at the expense of Bourdais. The 38-year-old four-time Indy car champ sustained a fractured pelvis and right hip in a May 20 crash while attempting to qualify for the Indy 500.

“Hey, Seb, I want to wish you a quick recovery,” Kanaan said in the video. “Obviously not the circumstances that I wanted to be for my first Le Mans, but I’ve got a big shoe to fill. I have to replace you there, you guys won the (GTLM) title last year. I’ve never been there so I’m going to try to make you proud and I’ll be thinking of you the whole way, man.”

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is scheduled June 17-18, an off weekend for the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Fifth Third Bank sponsoring Servia this weekend

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced Tuesday that Fifth Third Bank has extended its partnership with the team as an associate sponsor for three more years and will expand its role to include primary sponsorship of the No. 16 Honda driven by Oriol Servia in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader this weekend.

It is the first time for Fifth Third to be a primary sponsor on an Indy car. The bank is in its second year as an associate sponsor for the team.

“We are very pleased that we have been able to grow our Fifth Third relationship and feature them as the primary sponsor in both races in Detroit on Oriol Servia’s entry,” said Bobby Rahal, the team co-owner with David Letterman and Mike Lanigan. “My personal experience with Fifth Third Bank goes back to the days when I lived in Columbus, Ohio, and I am very proud that it has grown to this level since our partnership began in 2016.”

Servia made his 200th career Indy car start in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, finishing 21st. The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix is the only doubleheader race weekend on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, with 70-lap races on Saturday and Sunday (both air at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network).

“There is no better way for us to ignite the Fifth Third brand than by partnering with the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team and Indy car racing,” said Steven Alonso, group regional president of Fifth Third Bank. “We had a great experience with our partnership last year and we are thrilled to not only continue but to increase our sponsorship for the next three years. We are really looking forward to being the primary sponsor and see the Fifth Third Bank car in the field at the Detroit Grand Prix.”

Partnership at all-time high for Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix

The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear has an unprecedented level of partnership for this year’s race weekend. With a mix of local and national corporate support, the grand prix will feature an all-time high of 77 partners represented at the June 2-4 event.

Partners include new race presenting sponsor Lear Corporation as well as returning title sponsor Chevrolet and Meijer, which again sponsors the fan zone. The MotorCity Casino Hotel, now in its sixth year a partner, sponsors the entertainment stage.

“We enjoy terrific support from our 77 corporate partners at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear and we couldn’t host this event without them,” said Bud Denker, chairman of the grand prix. “With the help of these partners, not only are we able to start the summer every year with a great festival in the Motor City, we are also able to make lasting improvements on Belle Isle. We thank all of them for being a part of this wonderful event and for their dedication to the city of Detroit and to helping restore this jewel in Belle Isle Park.”

NFL Pro Bowl offensive guard TJ Lang, a new member of the Detroit Lions, will serve as the grand marshal on Saturday. Among Lang’s duties will be to issue the command for Verizon IndyCar Series to start their engines before the first race of the weekend doubleheader.

For ticket information, visit detroitgp.com.

Honda Indy Toronto single-day tickets on sale

Single-day tickets to the Honda Indy Toronto, the 12th race of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, are on sale now. Prices start as low as $40 for single-day general admission and $70 for reserved grandstand seats for the July 14-16 race weekend.

Two-day tickets are still available for purchase to secure the best seats in the grandstands. A limited quantity of Gold Level reserved grandstand seats for the highest rows remain and are sold only in the two-day option that includes a paddock pass.

Visit hondaindytoronto.com for more ticket information.

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