Kanaan apologizes for triggering eight-car wreck
Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda’s Tony Kanaan has apologized for the Lap 152 collision that triggered a 220mph shunt at Texas Motor Speedway that eliminated several leading runners.
Five laps after a restart, Kanaan moved right on the back straight and made contact with the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Honda of James Hinchcliffe, not realizing that the Canadian’s teammate Mikhail Aleshin was on the outside lane, making them three-wide into Turn 3.
Hinchcliffe bounced off the Ganassi car and into his teammate, triggering a wreck [see video below] that not only ended the night for the SPM duo, but also wiped out Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Andretti Autosport-Honda, Carlos Munoz’s AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet, the two Dale Coyne Racing-Hondas of Tristan Vautier and Ed Jones and also heavily damaged the two Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolets of Ed Carpenter and JR Hildebrand. The latter pair would rejoin, several laps down and salvage 11th and 12th places.
Not only did Hinchcliffe and Dale Coyne blame Kanaan – Coyne even tearing into him as the Brazilian sat in his car on pitlane following the inevitable red flag – but IndyCar Race Control concurred. Kanaan had to serve a stop-and-hold penalty of 20 seconds once racing resumed, and although that put him two laps down, he salvaged second place by the end.
Describing the incident afterward, Kanaan commented: “Honestly, I didn't see it. There was a bump going into Turn 3 there, and I guess I moved up, and I really have to apologize to Hinch. I'm definitely going to go see him if he wants to see me, or I'll call him.
“I moved up, and we hit. I'm really… It's sad. I don't do those kind of things. I race people clean, and I want people to race me clean. It was definitely an honest mistake. You never, especially in a place like this, crash people on purpose. And I've been around it way too long to do any silly things like that, and if I did, it was really a mistake, and I apologize for it.
“Obviously I had to pay that in the pits for the longest 20 seconds of my life.”
Kanaan was cited by some as to blame for an earlier incident that saw Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi dum-dum off the sidepods of Kanaan (on the outside line) and a second Ganassi car of Scott Dixon on the inside line, that saw the 2016 Indy 500 winner loop into a spin and strike the wall at Turn 3.
Said Kanaan: “I guess I don't have a lot of friends out there. Apparently I got blamed for all of [the incidents]. Got a penalty, paid a penalty, and we finished second. So I guess it is what it is.
“It was a pack race, and I really expressed my feelings about that, but yeah, tough night. Very intense from first lap to the last lap. I'm glad it's over.
“I had to avoid a lot of contact, as well, got really frustrated in the middle of the race and then towards the end. But I guess races like this, at one point in the race you're going to get mad at somebody. When you have 19 cars running half a second from each other, fighting for the same real estate, that's what happens.”
Kanaan calls for change of format
On the subject of whether IndyCar races should continue in this form, Kanaan said: “I think it's pretty obvious we can't. I mean, what you have -- five cars finished the race? Six cars? Plus in our type of cars, we can't do that. That's my opinion.
“I know people will agree and people will disagree with me, but it was a “new” track. It was our first race back because of the construction [and] we didn't really have a lot of time to test here.
“I don't think we should be doing this the way it is. We should be coming to Texas. The fans are great. This track is awesome. But I think we should change the format a little bit. How? I don't know; we've got to figure it out.”
Kanaan said it was Vautier’s startling progress that woke him up to the fact that it was going to be a pack race.
“Vautier passed everybody on the outside. I'm like, ‘I was not expecting that.’ And then he started to clean it up there. If you look at my pre-race interview, I'm like, ‘No way.’ Oh, boy, I was wrong. So wrong.
“Nobody was pulling away. In the past, we had tire deg[radation]. With the new asphalt, we don't. The tires were so good that everybody was able to hang in there, and we started to clean the high lane, and that was it. I mean, we went three wide quite a few laps, and that's what caused some of the problems.”
The other problem Kanaan observed was that the competition yellows and mandatory pitstops due to tire blistering proved a double-edged sword.
“At those kinds of speeds, if somebody is getting a blister we can't afford to have a problem like that,” he said. “Do I agree with that? I have to because it's putting everybody else's safety in check, right? It takes one guy to have a problem, and he will take five guys out, as we saw. Not for a tire problem, but...
“So I think it was OK [to have competition yellows], but the thing is when you have a pack race, the longer you go green, the better it is. You keep bringing yellows back and you put the whole pack back together, and that was the problem.
“But I think the bigger issue was definitely the blistering, and we had to address that.”
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