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He broke ribs in the 2009 Indianapolis 500 but was behind the wheel the next week in Milwaukee.

“I was hurting. I had two broken ribs. I actually could barely walk to the car,” Kanaan said. “That was the closest I got not to race. The one that I shouldn’t have raced actually.”

But he stayed behind the wheel, just as he did when he burned his hands and face in a pit road accident in 2009, and again this season when he drove with three torn ligaments in his right thumb.

Who needs a disabled list?

He’s survived it all to win 16 times in open wheel, 15 with IndyCar. Kanaan, 11th in the points standings, won the 2004 series championship and finally put away the past heartache at Indy to win his first 500.

Kanaan ended 12 years of frustration when he won in May at the Brickyard, thousands of fans screaming, “TK! TK! TK!” on that long, final lap.

“I know I have the ring and they’re going to put my face on the trophy,” he said. “Those things are obviously cool, but the memories are what’s going to last. That’s probably the best one.”

Vasser’s streak started with the final race of the 1993 season and stretched to the 2006 season opener.

If any driver had to knock him out of his place in history, he’s glad it’s Kanaan. Kanaan and Vasser have been friends since they competed against each other in the late 90s.

“There’s nobody else better,” Vasser said. “I think it’s a pretty cool thing. And we’re doing it in Baltimore where the real Iron Man, Cal Ripken, really built the house. It’s all pretty cool.”

It’s also all in the numbers.

Turns out, Kanaan and Vasser believe there’s something to the 1 and 2 at the end of the 212.

Vasser’s number was 12 and his wine goes by V12 Vineyards. Kanaan qualified 12th in his 12th Indianapolis 500 this year and had pit box No. 12. And the streak was methodically built over 12 seasons.

“He’s the right guy,” Vasser said.

He could still be Vasser’s guy for next season.

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