Tony Kanaan has been racing in the Indy 500 for nearly 20 years. Won it once back in 2013, and has become an adopted Hoosier beloved by so many in the state of Indiana and of course the city of Indianapolis.
But this year has been an adjustment for TK. Only racing ovals in IndyCar being part-time just like his pal growing up Helio Castroneves, and as he continues to grow older, Kanaan knows his time in racing is winding down.
I posed a hypothetical to him about if he were to take the checkered flag and drink the milk at Indy in 2022 if that would push him to want to get back into IndyCar full-time.
"No. I don't think that's happening again. I've made my decision," Kanaan told me. "I'd go even further. I think if that happens, I don't think Tony Kanaan is doing IndyCar at all after that."
Going out on top. The Bus style. Peyton Manning style. It'd be fitting for a legend like Kanaan, but it'd definitely be bittersweet for IndyCar fans. Every single year during driver introductions hardly anyone gets a louder ovation than TK at IMS.
"I've tried to explain that to people. Racing is my life but my biggest fear is for someone to retire me. And I never said I was going to retire, I said I was slowing down, but at some point you gotta think…next year I'll be 47 years old. I'm not saying I'm old, but I'm not 20 anymore. It gets to the point where you go 'alright, we've done enough'. Do I think I can still race the Indy 500 for the next three years until I'm 50? Actually that is my goal."
It's wild how we've actually gone backwards in a way in terms of age with racing. In football it used to be rare to see QBs last much past 35. Now you look all around and Brees was 40, Big Ben is 39, Philip Rivers was 39, Tom Brady obviously still going at damn near 45. It's kind of the expectation now in a sport like that for a QB that's successful to play well beyond 35.
In racing you had AJ Foyt racing at 58, Mario Andretti running the Indy 500 at 54. Now we call Scott Dixon the old head driving full-time at 40.
I can only hope that we get 3-4 more month of Mays at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Tony Kanaan being introduced before The Greatest Spectacle In Racing.
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