Kanaan had a chance to join Target/Chip Ganassi Racing in 2008 when the team was looking to replace Wheldon as driver of the No. 10 entry. Kanaan actually turned down Ganassi’s offer to remain with Andretti Autosport but two years later he was out of a ride when longtime sponsor 7-Eleven left the sport.
Meantime, Franchitti took over that ride and won three-straight IndyCar titles to give him four in his career and two more Indianapolis 500s to make him a three-time winner of that race.
Kanaan’s career began to wallow. He left Andretti and competed for KV Racing and was finally able to achieve his career-long dream of winning the Indianapolis 500 this past May.
One month ago, it appeared that Kanaan would be out of an IndyCar ride once again. He even briefly discussed a NASCAR opportunity with Joe Gibbs Racing, but when that team wanted Kanaan to bring money to NASCAR Kanaan’s search went back to IndyCar and ultimately led him back to the team he turned down in 2008.
“It’s a great opportunity for me,” Kanaan said. “The opportunity came with the offer from Chip and I don’t need to talk about his accomplishments with the team so it was a no-brainer for me to be part of this operation. It has been a roller coaster for sure. That is how life is. One month ago it was really tough but this shows how life can change so quick.
“I think I’ve been blessed in my career and when you do good things; good things happen for you. I’m thrilled. That’s the story of my life, isn’t it? We finally did it.”
Kanaan said he would remain friends with KV Racing co-owner Jimmy Vasser.
“He knew about this from the get-go because I had to be extremely honest with him,” Kanaan said. “We did a lot in three years but I have to think about the opportunity at this time in my career and how great that is. To have a brand new sponsor coming into the series with NTT Data that is a big plus for the series too. I know for a fact how hard it is to bring a sponsor in so this is no regrets. Jimmy remains a personal friend of mine.”
Kanaan was hired to drive the race car and didn’t have to find a sponsor to help him land this ride.
“I asked Chip what I had to bring and he said just bring my helmet,” Kanaan said. “That was a big relief off my shoulders. But we are still going to bring some of my sponsors over to Chip’s team. Bringing sponsorship was a responsibility I never wanted but it was something I had to do. But this did not depend on me bringing any sponsorship to the team.”