Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Kanaan finally wins Indy 500

INDIANAPOLIS — Nine years ago, during a visit to Indianapolis, Tony Kanaan went to see a young girl in a hospital. She was comatose after a stroke and scheduled to have brain surgery the next day. Kanaan gave her mother a necklace, a gift from his mother, for good luck.

The girl lived.

Fast forward to last week when the woman, now 24, returned the necklace to Kanaan.

"She thought she had enough luck," he said. "She wanted to give it back to me."

On Sunday, as he carried that necklace in the right pants pocket of his driving suit, fortune indeed smiled on Kanaan at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

He claimed his first Indianapolis 500 in 12 tries, winning in a wild finish filled with caution flags and a last-gasp pass.

The 97th Indy 500 was up for grabs with three laps left when Ryan Hunter-Reay led on a restart. Kanaan and Carlos Munoz passed him before Turn 1. Behind them, Dario Franchitti hit the wall, bringing out a caution that decided the race.

Munoz finished second and Hunter-Reay third.

"You can't predict yellow, but I said I'm going for the lead," Kanaan said. "I didn't want to be in the lead (before then), because I knew I would get caught on the restart. I was in the perfect place, exactly where I wanted to be."

On Lap 194, Graham Rahal's crash brought out the yellow flag and set up the final restart. There was only one partial lap of green-flag racing the rest of the way, but it was enough for Kanaan.

"With three laps, I thought we could have mounted another challenge," Hunter-Reay said. Of the second late caution, he added, "I didn't think it would happen that soon, that's for sure."

Kanaan, 38, the 2004 IndyCar champion, led eight times in 11 previous Indy starts only to come up short. In 2007, he led 83 laps before two caution flags and bad weather derailed him.

"I wanted this all my life," he said.

The race was wide open and spine-tingling from the beginning. Sixty-eight lead changes shattered the record of 34, set last year. The number of leaders, 14, set another mark.

So did the average speed of 187.433 mph, which broke the record of 185.981 set in 1990. At one point, there were 133 consecutive green-flag laps, and only five cautions total.

Franchitti, the defending champion, started 17th and never contended but still played a major role in the outcome.

"I went into the first corner on the last restart, and it just didn't turn and then the hit," Franchitti said. "When I saw who was leading, it cheered me up. … Great, just phenomenal that Tony won."

To say Kanaan is a well-liked veteran is an understatement. Franchitti is a close friend, and he shared a long embrace with Kanaan in the midst of celebrations. Former Champ Car rivals Alex Zanardi and Max Papis, looking on from the pits, shed tears just after the checkered flag. And in a scene reminiscent of Dale Earnhardt's 1998 victory in the Daytona 500, after 20 years of trying, rivals and crew members from many teams saluted Kanaan on his cool-down lap and as he pulled into pit road.

Marco Andretti finished fourth after leading 31 laps, stretching his family's winless drought at the Brickyard to 44 years, but he was also eager to greet Kanaan as he took the ceremonial winner's ride aboard an open-top car.

"They say nice guys finish last," Kanaan said. "Maybe this proves them wrong."

And his face will be the 100th chiseled into the side of the Borg-Warner Trophy, the most coveted prize in IndyCar. Even that thought brought a quip from a man quick to joke around in English or his native Portuguese.

"Finally, I'm going to put my ugly face on that trophy," he said.

 
Comments
For starters: Back to back starts for Duffy as Rays face Red Sox, 1:05

For starters: Back to back starts for Duffy as Rays face Red Sox, 1:05

UPDATE, 11:36: Manager Kevin Cash said the plan is to play Duffy on back to back days a couple times early in spring, believing the short bursts of activity will best help him build up after missing all of 2017. … Matt Andriese will come out of...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pregnant mother Paige Howard wins women’s Gasparilla 15K

Pregnant mother Paige Howard wins women’s Gasparilla 15K

TAMPA — Initially, Tampa's Paige Howard was a little reticent about joining the pre-dawn throng at the starting line of Saturday's Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K.On a morning when temperatures began in the mid-60s and climbed, Howard's ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Northeast High alumnus Jon Mott wins 3rd Gasparilla 15K crown

Northeast High alumnus Jon Mott wins 3rd Gasparilla 15K crown

Roughly 20 minutes into Saturday morning's Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K, reigning champ A.J. Richmond glanced over his left shoulder to former college teammate Jon Mott and flashed a quick hand signal."He was telling me that the two guys in...
Updated: 3 hours ago
The truth about the Tampa Bay Rays’ reset

The truth about the Tampa Bay Rays’ reset

The Tampa Bay Rays are not going to be very good this year.We already knew that.They have gutted a team that won 80 games last season. Among those sent packing: Evan Longoria, Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi and team MVP Steven Souza Jr.Yeah, this thi...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays spring training info: Saturday at Red Sox, 1:05

Rays spring training info: Saturday at Red Sox, 1:05

Rays Saturday scheduleAt Red Sox1:05, JetBlue Park, 11500 Fenway South Drive, Fort MyersPitchers: Rays – RH Jake Faria, RH Matt Andriese, RH Dustin McGowan, LH Ryan Yarbrough, RF Chaz Roe, LH Jose Alvarado, RH Evan Scribner, RH Jose Mujica; Red...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Marlins treat Stoneman Douglas players to an afternoon of baseball

Marlins treat Stoneman Douglas players to an afternoon of baseball

BY CLARK SPENCERMiami HeraldJUPITER – A player for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School baseball team politely asked Marlins outfielder Monte Harrison if he would mind giving him a bat as a souvenir."Not only will I give you one of my bats,...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Aaron Boone gets a new view, win in spring training debut

Aaron Boone gets a new view, win in spring training debut

TAMPA  — Aaron Boone walked to home plate for his first game as a manager at any level and was greeted by Detroit's Ron Gardenhire, a 60-year-old baseball lifer back in charge of a big-league team for the first time in four years."I told h...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Live blog: 2018 Gasparilla Distance Classic

Live blog: 2018 Gasparilla Distance Classic

The Tampa Bay Times will be there for every step of this year's Gasparilla Distance Classic. Whether you'll be walking, skipping, jogging or sprinting across the 5K, 8K, 15K or half-marathon finish, join us by using #gasparillarun.(function(d, s, id)...
Published: 02/24/18
Impact of Tommy John surgery cuts deeply for Brent Honeywell, Rays

Impact of Tommy John surgery cuts deeply for Brent Honeywell, Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE – Two things that tell you a lot about Rays cocksure top prospect Brent Honeywell given Friday's crushing news that he indeed tore a ligament in his prized right arm and is headed for Tommy John surgery that will sideline him wel...
Published: 02/23/18
NHL trade deadline: Action picks up with three-team deal

NHL trade deadline: Action picks up with three-team deal

RALEIGH, N.C. — The  Penguins acquired center Derick Brassard from the Senators on Friday night in a three-team deal that sent defenseman Ian Cole to Ottawa and forward Ryan Reaves to the Golden Knights.The Penguins announced the deal...
Published: 02/23/18