Tony Kanaan to race Indy 500 in sponsored American Legion car
Tony Kanaan drove the No. 48 American Legion car to a 10th-place finish in the 105th Indy 500. (Photo by Ben Mikesell)

Tony Kanaan to race Indy 500 in sponsored American Legion car

Tony Kanaan has one last battle within him, one more battle to fight, one last mission to accomplish. That is why he is reenlisting for one more tour of duty with The American Legion and Chip Ganassi Racing for the 106th Indianapolis 500.

TK is back at the Indy 500 for one last time and he will once again be driving a Honda sponsored by The American Legion. The announcement was made by the team Monday morning at INDYCAR’s “Content Days” at the JW Marriott Hotel in Indianapolis.

Kanaan drove for The American Legion in the 105th Indianapolis 500 last year in the No. 48 Honda and the popular driver made many new friends in The American Legion. This year, he hopes to make one last ride into Indianapolis 500 glory and is prepared to take The American Legion all the way to victory lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kanaan will get his third chance for his “final” Indianapolis 500, as the 2013 Indy 500 winner returns to Chip Ganassi Racing in 2022.

Two-years ago when he was driving for AJ Foyt Racing, Kanaan announced the 104th Indianapolis 500 would be his final race on the big stage, and it was a chance to say farewell to all of his fans. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the world in 2020 and that year’s Indy 500 was held without spectators.

Kanaan got a reprieve when team owner Chip Ganassi needed a driver to share the No. 48 Honda when seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson originally agreed to a street and road course schedule in the NTT IndyCar Series.

Kanaan drove the No. 48 Honda in the four oval races in 2021 including the 105th Indianapolis 500. Kanaan was impressive at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as he was among the fastest drivers every day in practice and made the “Fast Nine Shootout” that determined the first three rows of the 33-car starting lineup.

Kanaan’s qualifying speed was the fifth fastest, and he started last year’s race in the middle of Row 2. He went on to finish 10th in the race in a car sponsored by The American Legion.

Kanaan finished 11th in the first race of a doubleheader at Texas Motor Speedway and 15th in Race No. 2 on the 1.5-mile high-banked oval. He closed out the oval season with a 13th place finish at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

After showing steady improvement in a completely new form of racing, Johnson has decided to run the full NTT IndyCar Series season in 2022, including the 106th Indianapolis 500. Ganassi had promised Kanaan that he would still compete in the Indy 500 and on Monday morning, that became official.

Kanaan will drive a Honda sponsored by The American Legion. Car livery and other details will be announced later.

That gives team owner Chip Ganassi five entries in this year’s Indy 500.

It will be Kanaan’s 21st Indianapolis 500, where he is one of the most popular drivers in recent Indy 500 history because of his fierce and tenacious racing style.

In 20 previous starts, Kanaan has led a combined 346 laps in the race. After so many great races and close calls to winning the 500, Kanaan finally won it in his 12th attempt in 2013 for KV Racing Technology in a Chevrolet. He led 34 laps and had “the best restart of my life” on the final restart to jump from fourth place to the lead entering Turn 1 to go on to score his only Indy 500 win.

Thanks to Ganassi and The American Legion, Kanaan will have once last charge left in his career in the 106th Indianapolis 500.