Possible Brickyard Swan Song for Castroneves, Kanaan, Montoya Has My Indy 500 Anticipation at All-Time High
by Julian Spivey
I always get really excited to see the Indianapolis 500. It’s easily one of my 10 favorite sporting events of the year and many times over the last decade or so it’s ended up being one of my five favorite events of the year. The Indy 500 is this great mixture of incredible spectacle and underrated seemingly more and more with each passing year forgotten classic event. It’s truly the most edge on your seat event with driver making death-defying passes at near 220 MPH. At the Indy 500 the passes seem more spectacular and the crashes more devastating. It’s the event every driver dreams of winning and some claim they’d rather win than the actual IndyCar Series championship at season’s end.
I’m always excited for Indy, but this year the anticipation is even higher because I have a feeling this could be the last hurrah for three drivers I greatly admire and have had a lot of success in their careers at the Brickyard. I’m talking about Helio Castroneves (46 years old), Tony Kanaan (46 years old) and Juan Pablo Montoya (45 years old).
None of the three are full-time drivers. Kanaan is doing a part-time schedule for Chip Ganassi Racing driving the No. 48 Honda at the oval tracks while seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson is piloting the car as the most prestigious 45-year-old rookie in IndyCar history on the road and street courses. Kanaan will be starting in the middle of the second row and with CGR being a top-flight IndyCar team is likely the favorite of these three veterans. Kanaan, who’s likely the most popular non-Indiana born driver in the field, won the race in 2013.
Montoya, who’s competing in his first Indy 500 in four years, will start toward the end of the field in 24th position with Arrow McLaren SP in the No. 86 Chevrolet. Montoya is a two-time winner of the Indy 500 winning in 2000 as a rookie and then again in 2015 after making a comeback in the series after spending many years competing in Formula 1 and NASCAR.
Castroneves will once again take a shot at becoming the fourth driver in Indianapolis 500 to win the race four times. Castroneves previously won back-to-back in 2001 and 2002 and then again in 2009, all with Penske Racing, the winningest team in Indy 500 history with 15 victories. Castroneves is running in this year’s event with Meyer Shank Racing, a relative newcomer in the series, and will be piloting the No. 06 Honda. It’ll be his 21st Indianapolis 500 start, but his first for any other team besides Penske.
Now, as far as I have seen none of these drivers have come out and officially announced that this year’s race will be their last at what’s likely the world’s most famous racetrack and I certainly would love to see them all compete in future years. But given their ages and the fact that none compete full-time in the series and haven’t in a few years I’m sort of reading the writing on the yard of bricks.
Not only are Castroneves, Kanaan and Montoya legends of auto racing, but all three are truly memorable personalities, which is why I’ve loved watching them, particularly at the Brickyard, all these years. Castroneves and Kanaan – both from Brazil – are just so genial and affable and almost always seem to have smiles on their faces. It’s no wonder both are so beloved by fans of the sport. Then there’s Montoya, who hails from Colombia, who’s an absolute bulldog of driver who gives no quarter and takes no gruff on the track from anyway.
I can’t wait to see what these three men do on the racetrack on Sunday and wish them all success. Frankly, I’d love to see a 1-2-3 finish between them. They’ll have terrific competition though with six other previous winners of the race in the event including last year’s winner Takuma Sato (a two-time winner of the event), the reigning series champion and active legend Scott Dixon, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi, who many believe to be the favorite.