The girl lived. By chance four days ago she returned the necklace to Kanaan.
She thought she had enough luck he said. She wanted to give it back to me.
On Sunday fortune indeed smiled on Kanaan at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He claimed his first Indianapolis 500 in 12 tries winning in a wild finish filled with caution flags and a last gasp pass.
The 97th Indy 500 was up for grabs with three laps to go when Ryan Hunter Reay who was leading went three wide with Kanaan and Carlos Munoz into the first turn off a restart. Kanaan darted to the lead and then cruised to victory under a caution flag after Dario Franchitti crashed.
Munoz was second and Hunter Reay third.
You can t predict yellow but I said I m going for the lead Kanaan a 38 year old from Brazil said. I didn t want to be in the lead because I knew I would get caught on the restart. I was in the perfect place exactly where I wanted to be.
Kanaan made his move on the restart only after another caution that interrupted his duel with Hunter Reay and Munoz.
On the 194th lap Graham Rahal brought out the yellow flag when he hit the wall. There was only one partial lap of green flag racing the rest of the way but it was enough for Kanaan.
With three laps I thought we could have mounted another challenge Hunter Reay said. Of the second late caution he added I didn t think it would happen that soon that s for sure.
For Kanaan who celebrated in victory lane chugging and dousing himself with the traditional jug of milk the victory was an exclamation point on an illustrious career and a measure of redemption after so many close calls at racing s most famous track.
Kanaan s r sum now includes 15 IndyCar victories and a series championship in 2004. But at Indianapolis he had led in every race the last nine years only to come up short. In 2007 he led for 83 laps before two caution flags and bad weather derailed him.
I wanted this all my life Kanaan said. But over the years I was kind of O.K. with the fact that I may never have the chance to win it.
I was looking in the stands and it was unbelievable. I m speechless. This is it. I made it.
The race was a wide open and spine tingling affair from the beginning. Sixty eight lead changes shattered the previous record of 34 set last year. The number of leaders 14 set another mark with nearly half of the field leading the race at some point. After Lap 112 no one held the lead for more than six consecutive laps.
At one point there were 133 consecutive green flag laps the most since race officials began tracking the statistic in 1976. Kanaan also set an Indy 500 record with an average speed of 187.433 miles per hour.
Story lines abounded before the race. The field for the first time since 1987 included two three time winners. Helio Castroneves started eighth and lurked for much of the race in the top 10 but he never challenged for the lead and placed sixth. Franchitti the defending champion started from the 17th position but had trouble with his car and was never a threat to win although he played a major role in the outcome.
Our car was never really good all day Franchitti said. I went into the first corner on the last restart and it just didn t turn and then the hit.
He added When I saw who was leading it cheered me up a little bit. Great just phenomenal that Tony won.
Ed Carpenter of Indianapolis the hometown favorite was the pole sitter. He battled Marco Andretti who led for 31 laps early in the race before fading. Carpenter finished 10th despite leading for a race best 37 laps.
In this moment 10th is not what we came here for Carpenter said. But in the big scheme of things it is something to be happy about. I thought I was going to get it back the whole time and that is what I am disappointed with.
In qualifying last weekend Chevrolet engines claimed the top 10 pole positions. On Sunday Chevrolet had six of the top seven finishing cars.
It was a cool and sunless afternoon in Indianapolis. With the temperature 62 degrees at the start it was the third coldest race in Indy s history. Rain was in the forecast but it stayed away just like the caution flag long enough for Kanaan to capture the checkered flag.
He took his victory lap in a blue convertible with his wife Lauren at his side. He blew kisses waved to the crowd and pumped his fist high overhead. He arrived at the finish line and was greeted by a wall of supporters and camera crews. He knelt and gave the famous Brickyard bricks a kiss as the crowd chanted T.K. T.K.
For Kanaan a well liked veteran driver there were kind words from fans and competitors.
They say nice guys finish last Kanaan said. Maybe this proves them wrong.
His face will be the 100th chiseled into the side of the Borg Warner Trophy the most coveted prize in IndyCar.
Finally I m going to put my ugly face on that trophy Kanaan said.