By: Tanner Watkins
January 30, 2020 | 1:00 PM
In an announcement made alongside the Borg-Warner Trophy and Mark Miles, Tony Kanaan has confirmed that 2020 will be his final year of primary competition in the NTT IndyCar Series. The Brazilian legend will compete in five races this season, running an oval-only schedule that begins with the Indianapolis 500 in May.
Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner, will take his curtain call at the Indianapolis 500 in May, followed by stops at Texas Motor Speedway and Richmond Raceway in June, Iowa Speedway in July, and finally, WorldWide Technology Raceway at Gateway in August.
Kanaan will pilot the famous No. 14 Chevrolet for A.J. Foyt Racing.
“I look back at all these years racing in INDYCAR and the first thing that comes to my mind is how fortunate I’ve been to be in the top level of the sport for this long. I walked into this sport as a 23-year-old with lots of hopes and dreams and I can say, without a doubt, that I accomplished everything I wanted,” said Kanaan.
“I’m 45 now; I have fans, wins, podiums, records, a championship and an Indy 500. I feel and know I can still do this for a long time, but like everything else in life, there is also a cycle in racing. For a long time, I’ve been asked when I would retire, and my answer was always the same: The day I wake up in the morning and feel like I can’t do this anymore, that’s when I’m going to retire.
In today’s press conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Kanaan alluded to the fact that this change in schedule for the 2020 season wasn’t necessarily by choice – but it is one that he will enjoy nonetheless.
🇺🇸 ⚠️🚨 ANNOUNCEMENT 🚨⚠️— Tony Kanaan (@TonyKanaan) January 30, 2020
2020 will be my last season as a primary driver in @indycar. I’ll be racing the five oval races of the calendar, starting with the Indy 500 in May. I’m not retiring from motorsports, only announcing what I’m doing in 2020.#TKLastLap #INDYCAR pic.twitter.com/Yvc4vEh7RO
“Unfortunately, there are other things one should take into consideration when planning the future, and probably the most important one is what are the options that are available. For 2020, my best option was to race the five ovals of the NTT IndyCar Series season, the sport that gave me so much and that I will always love.
“I’m not done with racing, that’s for sure,” Kanaan continued. “I decided that this year I would step back a bit and enjoy these five races, have time for my family (wife Lauren, sons Leonardo, Max and Deco, and daughter Nina) and my fans, and also give back to the sponsors that always stood by me.”
Getting his start in 1998, Kanaan has racked up a total of 17 IndyCar wins, 15 pole positions, and 78 podium results in 377 career starts. Kanaan currently holds the record for most consecutive starts in IndyCar – 317 – which dates back to 2001 and a race at Portland International Raceway.
Kanaan’s historic streak will end in March when IndyCar kicks off the season, and he isn’t in the No. 14 Chevrolet.
In addition to winning the 2013 “500” and the 2004 IndyCar Series title, Kanaan also captured the Indy Lights championship in 1997 and was named the 1998 CART Rookie of the Year. His first major open-wheel win came in 1999 at Michigan International Speedway, kicking an illustrious career into high gear.
Still one of the most respected and revered drivers in the IndyCar paddock, Kanaan’s swan song in 2020 will certainly be a storyline throughout this season. One thing, though, is for certain in this year of transition: Kanaan wishes to remain part of the IndyCar puzzle moving forward.
“For the future, who knows? I’d love to still be involved with INDYCAR to some degree. I’ve also had offers to race in a number of different series, but that’s not my priority at the moment.”
Header image by Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR.