INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Hours later, Tony Kanaan still struggled to believe he had finally won the Indianapolis 500.
The Brazilian had come close many times in his previous 11 attempts before breaking through on Sunday. He couldn’t sleep Sunday night, but not because he was excited.
“I was afraid I was going to go to sleep and I wake up in the morning and it would be race day again,” the KV Racing driver said.
Kanaan can rest easy. His win was real, and so was the $2,353,500 he earned.
The winnings were announced at the Indianapolis 500 Victory Awards Celebration on Monday night at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Now, he has a place in history.
The image of his face will be on the Borg-Warner Trophy, and he’ll forever be a part of the traditions at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“When I got out of the car yesterday, I realized why every winner here feels so special,” he said. “It’s not about the check, it’s not about the ring _ it’s about becoming a legend.”
Kanaan said the accomplishment won’t affect his personality.
“What will change is Tony Kanaan will be able to be invited back here as a race winner. It’s never going to change who I am.”
Franchitti dismissed conspiracy theorists who thought he might have crashed intentionally to preserve the victory for his good friend.
“I love T.K. like a brother, but I didn’t do it on purpose. I can assure you if I did, it would have been a smaller crash. That one hurt yesterday.”
Franchitti, a three-time champion, finished 23rd and earned $277,805.
“Yesterday, we didn’t get it right,” Franchitti said. “We didn’t. We’ve done it a few times, got it right. We didn’t yesterday and we saw the result of that.”
Then, he looked over at his friend.
“My man here, they got it right. You did a great job.”
It was a steep drop in earnings for the second-place finisher, but 21-year-old Colombian rookie Carlos Munoz wasn’t complaining about $964,205.
“Whoa,” he said. “That’s a lot of money.”
Munoz said he was surprised to perform so well.
“Being a rookie, I didn’t expect to be that quick. It was an awesome car the whole race.”
Third-place finisher Ryan Hunter-Reay, the defending IndyCar champion, earned $583,005.
Marco Andretti, who took over the series points lead, was fourth with $469,755. He said Andretti Autosport was solid all day, but simply didn’t have enough for Kanaan.
“A few of us on our team executed perfectly,” Andretti said. “We still got beat, so that tells you how good these guys were.”
Justin Wilson finished fifth and earned $337,805. Helio Castroneves, who finished sixth, earned $313,755.
The mood was celebratory throughout the evening.
“Drivers are usually unhappy when they don’t win, but you made a lot of people happy,” Oriol Servia told Kanaan.