IndyCar's Wrong Turn: Tony Kanaan Loses Ride, Will Not Run Full Season

No NameAnalyst IFebruary 23, 2011

FORT WORTH, TX - JUNE 04:  Tony Kannan of Brazil, driver of the #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara Honda,  stands in the pit area during practice for the IZOD IndyCar Series Firestone 550k at Texas Motor Speedway June 4, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Tony Kanaan no longer has an Izod IndyCar Series team. It remains to be seen if owner Gil de Ferran does either.

Last night, Kanaan said he doesn't have enough sponsorship to join de Ferran Dragon Racing for the upcoming season. He's looking for the best available deal, but none of them are ideal.

"I came up with some money, but not enough for de Ferran's team," said Kanaan, who, ironically, announced a sponsorship program Tuesday with Itaipava, a Brazilian beer company that also will support Helio Castroneves. "The bottom line now is, who will give me a deal and for how many races?"

Kanaan is the series' 2004 champion, and one of the most popular drivers in the sport. He accepted a settlement last fall to be released from Andretti Autosport. Now he said he does not expect to get more than a few races this season.

"It's hard to take, especially a month before the championship starts," he said. "It's sad, but I'm going to keep fighting and go find something to drive."

There are only a few IndyCar teams that have open seats, and most of them need sponsorship to run even part time. De Ferran's team is one of those. De Ferran couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday night, but he has been seeking sponsors for months.

While there are a few full time rides out there, most of them require more money than Kanaan currently has. He said he has enough sponsorship for “some” races, the exact number to be determined by the deal he can strike with a team.

With this situation unfolding involving Kanaan and de Ferran's team, there are a lot of things that will need to be sorted out over the next month.

Right now there are the two seats at Coyne and Conquest, plus the one at Newman Haas. Both Dreyer, Reinbold and KV will have extra rides for part time drivers. Foyt has talked about an extra car, but there has been no official word on that situation

You also have to look at the other guys that are in a similar situation to Tony. You have Dan Wheldon, Paul Tracy, Thomas Scheckter and a few up-and-coming Firestone Indy Lights drivers that are being looked at.

Everything looked picture perfect after Kanaan signed with de Ferran's team, but now things are looking sour for one of the sport's greatest drivers, and a true class act.