The first time Tony Kanaan mentioned his interest in driving for A.J. Foyt before the end of his career, I wasn’t sure if he’d downed a few too many caipirinhas. As part of Chip Ganassi Racing’s empire, the Brazilian, then 40, knew he had a finite number of years left in top-line open-wheel competition, and with his tenure at CGR winding down, creating a perfect scenario to end his career on his own terms with Foyt—one of his idols—felt like the perfect play.
Stepping into the iconic No. 14 A.J. Foyt Chevy entry next season, Kanaan, who was announced as the new team leader on Thursday, was attracted to having the four-time Indy 500 winner as his boss and helping to restore the program’s competitiveness.
“I just thought it was a great opportunity for me to build something where we can make history, and for me that’s what racing’s all about,” said Kanaan, who signed a two-year contract. “Yes, it is about the wins, but it’s also about the people, the people that you’re associated with. We’re going to make some history.”
Foyt’s son Larry, who manages the team, is looking to Kanaan to bring 20 years of IndyCar experience, his 2004 championship, and 2013 Indy 500 win to reignite a team that has struggled to reach Victory Lane on a routine basis for more than a decade.
“I'm thrilled to have Tony Kanaan joining the team,” Foyt said. “We have known he would be a great fit for our team and our sponsors, and I'm glad the deal came together. Tony wants to win, and we want to win. I know he and I will be pushing each other to get the best results we can. With the new aero kit, I feel Tony's experience in many different iterations of Indy cars will be a great asset as we prepare and test for the upcoming season.”
With Kanaan’s close friend and countryman Helio Castroneves moving to IMSA next year to drive sports cars, TK will serve as IndyCar’s last link to its golden days.