• 72°

Jimmie Johnson will let Tony Kanaan take the ovals in IndyCar races

By Jenna Fryer

AP Auto Racing Writer

Tony Kanaan will have another chance for a proper IndyCar farewell tour with a two-year deal to partner with Jimmie Johnson at Chip Ganassi Racing.

Kanaan will compete in the four oval events on IndyCar’s 2021 schedule that Johnson does not plan to run. The seven-time NASCAR champion signed on for the road and street course events, and Ganassi announced Monday that Kanaan will complete the season in the No. 48 Honda.

“I was on the way out and all of a sudden I get a call from Jimmie about running the ovals. He kept saying ‘Doesn’t this make sense?’ ” Kanaan told The Associated Press. “They didn’t have to twist my arm to come back, especially with Jimmie and Chip.”

Kanaan’s 23rd season was supposed to be his last but the popular Brazilian was able to put together only a six-race farewell on IndyCar’s ovals. The pandemic then disrupted the entire year and Kanaan was not able to celebrate the end of his career with fans.

The two-year opportunity to pair with Johnson gets Kanaan back to Ganassi, where he raced from 2014 through 2017 and scored his 17th and final victory. It’s also a chance to race in front of his rabid base. Kanaan will compete in 2021 in the doubleheader at Texas Motor Speedway, at Gateway near St. Louis and at the Indianapolis 500, where he’s a beloved former winner.

Kanaan, who turns 46 on New Year’s Eve, is grateful for this opportunity at the end of his career. He’s also been picked to drive all six races in Tony Stewart’s start-up SRX Racing Series of all-stars next year.

“I guess I must have done something really good in my life,” Kanaan said. “Once you leave a team Ganassi, you don’t get a chance to come back, especially at this time in my career. This is just a perfect fit. It is so obvious, as Jimmie said, for me to race the ovals that he does not want to race.

“Because of the pandemic, I expressed a desire to come back and do ovals. I never said I wanted to do a full season because I was realistic. So this is just too good to refuse.”

The No. 48 will be sponsored by NTT DATA and Bryant, two longtime Kanaan partners.

Ganassi, who just hired 23-year-old Alex Palou to drive his No. 10 IndyCar entry next season, liked the idea of a veteran lineup in the No. 48. “As the Indy car driver market trends younger and younger, experience is something that cannot be taught — especially at the Indianapolis 500,” Ganassi said. “There is no one more experienced in the paddock than Tony, and when we needed the right fit for rounding out our oval program, it was clear he was the right choice.”

Comments

Business

In lieu of annual festival, New Sarum turns Cheerwine beer release into celebration

Education

RSS says federal money won’t be long-term solution for staff pay

China Grove

Main Street Marketplace combines local ingredients, community with farm-to-table dinner

Business

Business roundup: New managing director takes helm at Piedmont Players Theatre

Coronavirus

COVID-19 cases continue decline as week brings 12 new deaths

News

Letter: Privileged to work where artists are valued

Brincefield Cartoons

Mook’s Place: COVID-19

Lifestyle

Library notes: New podcast coming in October

Lifestyle

In ‘This is Salisbury,’ Manier paints people who make city a better place to live

Lifestyle

Stokes earns best in show at Carolina Artists Guild’s Expo

Education

Livingstone College passes goal for UNCF kickoff

News

Commissioners to consider tax incentives for developer planning 63,000-square-foot facility in southern Rowan

Local

OctoberTour will return to in-person tours, require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests

Business

Keepin it poppin’: The Old 97 Kettlecorn Company adapts during pandemic, earns honor

East Spencer

East Spencer mayor says board knew about new administrator’s sexual battery charge before hiring

College

College football: Catawba holds on for 3-0 start

Business

Salisbury-based Lutheran Services Carolinas expands refugee program

Nation/World

Trailblazing tourist trip to orbit ends with splashdown

Nation/World

One stunning afternoon: Setbacks imperil Biden’s reset

Crime

Defense witness gives tearful account of deadly shooting in Fishzilla murder trial

News Main

High school football: Hornets easily handle unbeaten Thomasville; North, Davie also romp

Elections

Judges strike down state’s voter ID law

Crime

Jury finds Robert Durst guilty of best friend’s murder

Crime

Jeffrey MacDonald ends release appeal from infamous 1970 slayings