Kanaan expects most competitive Indy 500 in his 18 years

Tony Kanaan looks down pit lane following the final practice for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 on Miller Lite Carb Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo courtesy: IndyCar Series/Shawn Gritzmacher)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Tony Kanaan anticipates the most competitive Indianapolis 500 in his 18 years in the race.

In other words, Kanaan will need all the speed he finally found Friday.

Kanaan turned a quick lap of 225.517 mph to top the charts in final practice for Sunday’s running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” And it came after Kanaan was vocal in his displeasure of his No. 14 car for A.J. Foyt Enterprises after the penultimate practice session this past Monday.

“I’m happier because I found a couple things, not because we were at the top,” said the popular Kanaan, who won the race in 2013. “I was not happy Monday. I was extremely angry about it. But starting 16th, I don’t think you’re going to see cars passing cars right away. The field is so tight.”

Rookie driver Santino Ferrucci was second fastest for Dale Coyne Racing, and former race winner Takuma Sato was third fastest in his Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

In fact, the top six cars after Kanaan were carrying Honda power.

“It’s the most competitive field I’ve ever seen,” Kanaan said. “Qualifying was extremely hard and it’s really tight. I think it’s going to be a difficult race. I do strongly believe everybody who is starting this race can win this race.”

The annual Carb Day revelry ahead of the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 got off to a soggy start as a line of storms rolled over Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which closed its gates briefly as lightning lit up the sky.

The storms moved away quickly, leaving in their wake a hot, humid day for thousands of fans taking in the festivities. The rain delayed the start of practice for about 15 minutes, but it still went off without any serious problems. It was followed by the Freedom 100 race for Indy Lights, the fan-friendly pit stop competition and an infield concert headlined by Foreigner.

It’s been a rainy month of May at Indianapolis, and there is more rain in the forecast for this weekend. Some meteorologists have predicted a 90 percent chance of rain on race day.

“Conditions look pretty similar to what we’re going to see Sunday,” Kanaan said. “You’re going to have to be patient and you’re going to have to dial it in extremely well.”

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