Tony Kanaan tops speed chart in final Indy 500 practice. Can he do it again in Sunday's race?

A massive tattoo adorning most of Tony Kanaan's right arm depicts highlights of the driver's life, including his Indianapolis 500 victory in 2013.

Kanaan hopes there's more ink in his future.


The Brazilian is attempting to win his second Indy 500 on Sunday at age 43, and he's driving a car prepared by the team owned by racing legend A.J. Foyt, who is one of three drivers to win the iconic race four times.

Kanaan — one of the most popular drivers among the sport's fans, who call him "T.K." — has been fast all month. He starts 10th in the 33-car field after qualifying with an average speed of 227.664 mph at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

He also topped the speed chart in final practice on a warm, clear Friday with a lap of 227.791 mph. The temperature is forecast to reach 90 degrees on race day.

"This is the closest we were going to get as far as weather for Sunday so we tried to optimize that" in practice, Kanaan said.

Scott Dixon, who won the race in 2008, was second fastest, followed by Marco Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais and Camarillo native Charlie Kimball.

"If you haven't figured it out by today, you're in trouble," Kanaan said. "So we just went through some exercises, gave the boys some pit stops, refueling, trying to gauge the fuel mileage and so on."

Kanaan's car carries the number 14 that Foyt used during his driving career, and Kanaan acknowledged that carrying the number "is a big thing here."

"It's a lot of pressure," Kanaan told reporters Thursday. "At this point in my career, I didn't think that I would have that much pressure after winning everything that I wanted to win. But, yeah, [the number] adds to it."

Kanaan also has been a mentor to his 19-year-old Brazilian teammate, rookie Matheus Leist.

"To be here at Indy with A.J. Foyt as an owner and Tony Kanaan as a teammate, it's something I never thought would happen," Leist said.

Leist qualified 11th and will take the green flag alongside Kanaan in the fourth row under Indy's unique starting format of 11 rows of cars, three abreast.

Despite Foyt's personal record at the Brickyard, his team has struggled at Indy for most of the last decade. Kanaan, who joined Foyt's team this season after four years with Chip Ganassi Racing, hopes to change that.

Tony Kanaan looks on after his run during qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 on May 19.
Tony Kanaan looks on after his run during qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 on May 19. (Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

"They hadn't been very successful the last few years," Kanaan said of A.J. Foyt Racing. "I think I've bumped it up and I brought a few people with me — my engineer, my mechanics."

Kanaan won the Verizon IndyCar Series championship in 2004. But before 2013, he had made 11 unsuccessful attempts to win the Indy 500, which made him a sentimental favorite when Kanaan finally reached Victory Lane in the sport's crown jewel event.


He knows that speed alone isn't enough to win, that it also requires flawless pit stops, a car that doesn't break down, a sound strategy and a sizable dose of luck.

Still, "I'm always comfortable, I always know what I've got" with the car, Kanaan said. "If it goes right, we have a pretty good chance. Whatever happens on Sunday, it's going to be up to us to make it happen."

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