VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES
want them.’ Those are things I still want
to accomplish, and I will make it.”
Kanaan already has both a title and
a Baby Borg. What he doesn’t have is the
sort of results he believes he should be
delivering for Ganassi. He’s entering his
third season in the No. 10, and at the time
of writing his tenure has yielded one win
(Fontana in 2014) and a highest points
position of seventh. Teammate Scott
Dixon has picked up five wins and a
championship during the same period.
“I want to be able to give Chip
[Ganassi] some of that same success that
Scott has, and I haven’t yet been able to,”
he says. “But that is something that
motivates me a lot. I’m in a team that is
capable of winning races and
championships, and that definitely makes
me wake up every morning wanting to
keep getting better.”
Underlining all of this is the reality that
longevity in motorsport is a two-way street.
A driver has to want to be there – but the
team also has to want to keep them.
IndyCar isn’t short on young, promising
talent, and some of Sage Karam’s
performances for Ganassi in 2015
demonstrated what can be done with
little more than raw, unvarnished speed.
But you could also make the argument
that Karam’s performances highlighted
some of the limitations of relying on that
raw, unvarnished speed. That the TKs and
Helios of the world continue to hold the
sought-after seats is no accident.
“A team wants to make sure that its
car is there at the end, and a guy with
experience is going to be much better
at turning a situation around than the
younger guy,” says Castroneves. “Also,
“Every time you put us into
a car at Indy, we have a
chance to win it. Why would
you replace a guy like that?”
because practice time is so limited at
the track now, having an experienced
guy helps a lot with getting the most out
of your track time. It’s not like 20 years
ago, when you could test every day if
you wanted to. Now, you do your testing
during the race weekend. And a guy
with experience can cut that learning
curve down, big-time.”
Kanaan puts it more bluntly.
“As a team owner, you know that a
Castroneves-type, or a Kanaan-type will
deliver,” he says. “Every time you put one
of us into a racecar at the Indianapolis 500,
you know that we have a chance to win
the thing. And I don’t think you can say
that for every rookie.
“If that’s a guaranteed thing, then
surely it’s a no-brainer – why would you
replace a guy like that? Sure, you might
add a car for somebody younger, but
you’re not going to replace the guy who
you know can win it.”
A quick look at the average ages of
Ganassi and Penske’s 2016 line-ups
( 35. 6 and 36. 2, respectively, as this is
written) would suggest that Chip and
Roger are inclined to agree.
In some sports, age becomes a barrier;
In IndyCar, it can work as a weapon.
(ABOVE) Entering his
19th year of top-level
Helio’s still in the mix.
(LEFT) TK and Helio’s
experience gives them
a “plug in and play”
quality that’s valued
by team owners.