Kanaan looks to move one step higher at Road America

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It’s been 42 races since Tony Kanaan stood on the top step of the podium – the same number as his age.

The last victory for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver, in his 20th Indy car season, came in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Kanaan has finished runner-up on four occasions since.

The 42-year-old Brazilian is coming off one of those second-place results June 10 in the wild Saturday night shootout known as the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 at Texas Motor Speedway. He also heads into this weekend’s KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America as the defending second-place finisher. Oddly enough, both results came behind Will Power.

KOHLER GRAND PRIX: Entry list; Weekend schedule

Kanaan nearly chased down Power a year ago at Road America, missing the win by just 0.7429 of a second. Like nearly the entire Verizon IndyCar Series paddock, Kanaan was elated when the scenic and lightning-fast 4.014-mile, 14-turn permanent road course in east-central Wisconsin was put back on the schedule following a nine-year absence.

“It’s one of my favorite road courses,” said Kanaan, driver of the No. 10 NTT Data Honda. “I mean, look at the crowd that we got there for the first time (after coming back).

“We came really, really close to winning that thing, so I can’t wait to get back there. I’ve always loved that place, even since back in the Champ Car days. I love the track. I love that the fans came in a massive amount last year, so definitely one of the races I’m looking forward to.”

Of course, last season, the Ganassi cars ran with Chevrolet’s engine and aero kit package, but the team switched to Honda for this season. Honda already has more wins in 2017 (five) than all of last year (two), so it’s easy to see why Kanaan believes he will be in good shape this weekend.

“It’s hard to tell, man,” said Kanaan. “I don’t know. We had a pretty good car there last year. For us, everything is new this year with the package, but Honda has been pretty consistent and pretty good at those types of tracks.”

Known as the “Ironman” of the series with an Indy car-record 274 consecutive starts coming into the weekend, Kanaan is eighth in the championship after nine of 17 races but only 22 points out of the top five. The strong finish at last year’s KOHLER Grand Prix provides extra motivation for this weekend, but only until the opening practice begins Friday.

“It’s always good to go back to a track that you know you did well, but that just makes you feel good until the first session because it doesn’t mean anything,” Kanaan said. “I wish you could say, ‘Because I did well here in the past, I can do it.’ Sure, it can happen again, but nothing is guaranteed.”

A pair of Verizon IndyCar Series 45-minute practice sessions are scheduled for Friday, starting at 11:45 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. ET. Both will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com.

Saturday’s schedule calls for a third practice at noon ET (RaceControl.IndyCar.com), with three rounds of knockout qualifying to determine the Verizon P1 Award pole winner starting at 4 p.m. (same-day telecast airs at 5 p.m. on NBCSN).

The final 30-minute warmup practice begins at 9 a.m. ET Sunday (RaceControl.IndyCar.com). Live coverage of the 55-lap race commences at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

KOHLER Grand Prix fast facts:

Race 10 of 17 on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule

Track: Road America, a 4.014-mile, 14-turn permanent road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Sunday's race will be the 27th Indy car race at the track, dating to the first event on 1982 won by Hector Rebaque. Team Penske's Will Power is the defending race champion.

Race distance: 55 laps / 220.77 miles

Track record: Dario Franchitti, 1 minute, 39.866 seconds (145.924 mph), Aug. 19, 2000

Firestone tire weekend allotment: Eight sets of the primary compound, four sets of the alternate compound (rookies and drivers outside the top 10 in points may acquire an additional primary set). If the race is run in dry conditions, each car must use at least one set of primary tires and one new set of alternates for at least two laps each during the race.

Push-to-pass parameters: Each car receives 200 total seconds of push-to-pass time in the race, with a maximum single activation of 20 seconds. Each activation adds approximately 60 horsepower to the engine output. Push-to-pass is not available on the initial race start or any restarts unless they occur in the final two laps or in the final three minutes of a timed race.

NBCSN telecasts: Qualifying, 5 p.m. ET Saturday (same-day delay); Race, 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday (live)

Ticket information: RoadAmerica.com



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