Canaan is in his 21stSt Indianapolis 500, his sixth with Ganassi but his first to drive an “extra” entry, in what is likely his only IndyCar race of the season. In 2020, his final year with AJ Foyt Racing, and in 2021 with Ganassi, Kanaan was a full-time oval specialist.
But Kanaan said some of his crew and engineers used to be in his car full-time, while others are from Chip Ganassi Racing’s two-car Cadillac prototype program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
After finishing third fastest in the two-day test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the 2013 Indy 500 winner commented, “We took it really slow. As far as my car is concerned, we are a new team. We just had to get everyone in the groove together.
“The guys that worked with me, half of them worked on my #10 car when I was at Ganassi [2014-’17]. We just took it easy. We did a lot of racing work, like everyone else.
“Obviously my teammates did a pretty good job and gave me something to start with. That was pretty decent. It really was an easy day. I think we gathered a lot of information. The boys pulled it off. We were just trying – a lot of my guys are working on the IMSA side this year – to really get into the groove, to get everyone working together.”
He later explained: “The cars are ready in a moment. Chip wouldn’t put me in a car just because he wanted to do me a favor. The car is the same preparation as the others. The team is a bunch of good guys. I think as a team we are competitive.
“We worked really hard as a team. There is no doubt that we will do everything to win this race.”
Canaan also received special praise for his race engineer Andy Brown, who worked for March Engineering in the 1980s, then Galmer, PacWest, Panther and Ganassi.
Kanaan described working with Brown as “great”. He continued, “It’s one of those things that, as your career progresses, you’re like, ‘What else can you do to have more fun or be more pumped up?’ … I have known Andy for three decades, had never worked with him, was hit by him many times!
“I remember obviously getting closer to Andy than Dan [Wheldon] worked with him and they won that race [in 2005].
“There was a lot of fun. We tried not to be too nostalgic, but tried to fit into the technology instead of saying, “When we were here in 1990…”
“It was my pleasure. He’s a great guy. I’m enjoying it a lot.”
Photo by: IndyCar