Kanaan feels love from Indy fans

Tony Kanaan has had 11 chances to win the Indianapolis 500 and come up empty every time.

He was leading in 2007 when the race was stopped for rain past the halfway point. Steady showers would have made him the victor, but the bad weather passed, the race resumed, and he watched teammate Dario Franchitti drive to victory.

Kanaan has led 221 laps — in eight of his 11 starts — has five top-five finishes, but the closest he ever came to drinking the milk was a second-place finish to Buddy Rice in 2004.

Still, the Brazilian is adored by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway crowd, and that’s enough right now for Kanaan.

“I don’t feel this place owes me anything. I have had great times here,” Kanaan said Wednesday. “Although some people would say I’m making an excuse — but the experiences that I had, I can only say every time I’ve been here I put myself in the position to win this race. That’s all I can do. The way the fans treat me, you know, and the privilege that I have to be here every year.”

The crowd reaction still touches Kanaan, and it lifted him in 2007 when he wound up 12th in a race that could have been his.

“Every time I drive my golf cart out there I can hear my name, big time,” he said, before recalling the end of the 2007 race, “I got out of the car, the entire place was screaming my name, and Dario had won the race. If I never win this thing, I think I got the feeling from the people around here how is it to win. Obviously, it will be a lot different if I would have my face on the trophy and stuff like that, but I don’t take it like that.

“I am not going to go away years from now, if I never win, regretting or being a little bit bitter about it. I mean, I had great time. My name in IndyCar, it’s a lot bigger right now because of the fans of Indianapolis and because I have not won it yet than actually probably if I had won already.”

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