Continued from page 1

It’s also Kanaan’s 11th Indy start, matching both his car number and his lucky number, and it just happens to be coming on a day that he will be wearing special sunglasses in tribute to the late Dan Wheldon, his close friend and ex-teammate.

“You know, every time Dan came here, he tried to enjoy it and I learned this from Dan,” Kanaan said. “He was pretty good around here, but every time he was here, he would be like, `Oh, look at the flags blowing’ or `Oh, they changed the photos in the Pagoda.’”

Kanaan insists he has learned to take a similar approach to Indy by staying relaxed and avoiding discussion of the things that could have been.

His buddies in Gasoline Alley know better.

“I think if Tony had a chance of winning the IndyCar championship, the points, or winning Indy, he’d go 100 times for Indy,” KV Racing Technology teammate and longtime friend Rubens Barrichello said. “When he was going for the setup out here, I told him `Just relax, man, you’re so tense.’ It freaks you out sometimes.”

Kanaan certainly has a large, loyal fan base.

He spoke of the roar he heard when he made the first qualifying run last Saturday only to have the time erased because of a technical violation. When he returned several hours later to qualify again, the roar was even louder.

Drivers ranging from Marco Andretti to Barrichello and even former drivers such as Michael Andretti acknowledge that deep down they’re still rooting for Kanaan to win one.

“I think the pressure keeps building when you know you have less and less shots,” Michael Andretti said. “So you just have to go out and do your job and hope this is your year.”

And that’s exactly Kanaan’s mentality heading into Sunday.

“I’m more confident than last year, so I’m ready,” Kanaan said. “And why not?”

When reminded he drove from 33rd into the front pack in 2010, Kanaan said: “We’ll try to do it again from eighth.”