BALTIMORE (AP) - Just outside Camden Yards, Tony Kanaan will zip past the park on the bumpy city streets of the baseball city with more speed than the average fastball and into the IndyCar Series record book.
Fitting, that the home of the Iron Bird is again the site of history, this time for open wheel’s new Iron Man.
The Streak again lives large in Baltimore.
And there might even be one more victory lap.
Kanaan’s milestone won’t be celebrated Sunday with 10-foot high numbers on a warehouse beyond the right-field wall overlooking Camden to mark the moment. His start in the Grand Prix of Baltimore will be noted with a simple 212 decal on the back of his helmet.
Without much fuss, Kanaan, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion, will set the IndyCar mark for consecutive starts, with 212. He’ll pass his owner, Jimmy Vasser, for the record when he starts his engine at one of the most unconventional courses on the circuit.
“I didn’t want to be beating one of my best friends in life and nowadays my boss, Jimmy,” Kanaan said. “But I guess I get to brag about that. I guess I can’t brag as much until I get to Sunday’s race because Jimmy has the power not to let me start this race if he wants to.”
Not a chance. He’s the Iron Man.
Kanaan has gripped the wheel with different teams and broken bones en route to becoming the most durable driver in the series. He’ll set the mark in the same city where Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. made history in 1995 with 2,131 consecutive games played. Ripken voluntarily ended the streak ended at 2,632, the standard in baseball for longevity.
Ripken declined an invitation to attend the race because of a personal commitment.
“I think we have a car that can fight for the top 10,” Kanaan said.
After sitting out a race because of a concussion, Kanaan’s streak began June 24, 2001 at Portland when he drove in the open wheel CART Series. He started the final 14 races in 2001 and every one since over the last 12 seasons.
Much like Ripken, Kaanan never let the day-to-day aches or injuries keep him from the lineup.
He broke his left arm in a 2003 race and missed a week of Indianapolis 500 practice. But he competed and finished third.