|Popular IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan has struggled at times during previous Toronto Indys but hopes his luck will change this week. (Getty file photo)
TORONTO - In the world of IndyCar racing there are few drivers as universally popular at Tony Kanaan.
And the driver of the No. 82 GEICO KV Racing Technology Lotus is just as popular among his peers as he is among the fans.
As he enters the sunset of his open wheel racing career Kanaan, however, would like to cash in some of that popularity for wins, particularly on the streets of Toronto.
Kanaan comes into the 25th anniversary edition of the Honda Indy Toronto with a fourth-place finish last year as his personal best in six tries at Exhibition Place. That was when he was still behind the wheel of the Andretti Autosport Dallara.
There was shock at the end of last season when he was dropped from AA after his long-time sponsor 7-Eleven withdrew its backing.
But since signing on with KVRT Lotus, Kanaan has lifted the team into contention several times already this year.
He opened the season by qualifying eighth and finishing third at St. Petersburg.
That came just days after he inked his new contract.
His only finish outside of the Top 10 so far has been in his native Brazil, where he was involved in a wreck.
Kanaan would like to get his first win with his new team in Toronto.
“The Honda Indy Toronto is a great event all around; not only is it challenging to drive, but Toronto is a fantastic city with great fans, as well,” he said. “The course itself has given me problems in the past so I am very excited to get out there this weekend to see if the (team) can help me to change my luck so I can give my son Leo the trophy he’s hoping to get this weekend while he is here with me.”
Kanaan has been the strongest of the three KVRT Lotus drivers this year.
In nine races, the 34-year-old Brazilian has also led a total of 97 laps, all on ovals. Kanaan is fifth in the championship race with 211 points and is just three points out of fourth and 19 out of third.
Danica's pair of sixes
Danica Patrick may be headed to NASCAR next season full time — at least that is the almost unanimous opinion of everybody in the IZOD IndyCar Series. But she still would like to finish up her open wheel racing career with a win in Toronto.
It is a track where she has done well, with a pair of sixth-place finishes the past two seasons — making the Honda Indy Toronto one of her favourite events.
“Toronto is a tough track to get right and it’s hard to be fast,” she said. “You have to take care of your car and stay out of trouble.
“Last year’s race was honestly one of my best road course races and I think this race tends to be one of the more interesting races of the year.
“Hopefully, we can put together another good effort this weekend with the GoDaddy car.”