2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Year in Review: Tony Kanaan
For Tony Kanaan, the theme of the past couple years continued as he once again found himself finishing in the mid-pack of the season standings.
Points Finish: 7th
Car No.: 10
Driver Name: Tony Kanaan
Team Name: Chip Ganassi Racing
Total Races: 16
Average Start: 8.8
Average Finish: 8.8
When the season started, Kanaan was able to put together a solid streak to start the year with four straight top-nine finishes, including a fourth at Phoenix International Raceway. However, the early string of success was broke with the Indianapolis Grand Prix as a crash resulted in a 25th place finish. He didn’t let it get him down, though, returning back to the front and finishing fourth in the Indianapolis 500.
Even though Chip Ganassi Racing struggled for speed at times, Kanaan was able to return back to his solid string of consistency by posting five straight top-nine finishes after his fourth in Indianapolis, including another pair of top-fives.
As the year finished off, the consistency faded off with only two of the last five resulting in top-10 finishes.
Highlight of 2016 – Despite not reaching victory lane, Kanaan was able to post some solid top-five finishes throughout the year, and led 16 laps in the Honda Indy Toronto.
Downfall of 2016 – The rocky consistency, which ultimately saw Kanaan miss the top-five in points come the end of season. However, it’s partially the team’s fault as a look at Dixon’s results reveals the same rocky consistency with a notable 3 DNFs due to mechanical issues. For a team like Chip Ganassi Racing known for competing for championships and race wins on a weekly basis in IndyCar competition, it marked a surprise for all fans to see their main drivers fail to finish in the top-five.
Road/Street Course Analysis – The results don’t say much with only two top-fives in 11 races, but he showed some strength and there were some positives in the seven top-10s in which he scored.
Oval Analysis – In the five oval races, Kanaan picked up three top-five finishes, with no finishes outside of the top-nine. If Ganassi can get their program in line, Kanaan could easily return to victory lane at an oval.
Notes for 2017 – While the lack of performance puzzled many, there are even more questions now entering the year with other decisions made by CGR executives. Shortly after the season ended, it was announced that CGR was switching from Chevrolet to Honda. Honda’s performance has been questionable the past couple of years as outside of Graham Rahal’s stand-out performances and some strong runs out of Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe, the brand has seemed to struggle. It’s worth noting they’ve made gains as they’re closer now compared to a couple years ago, so perhaps adding a major team to their line-up may be the last ticket needed.
With the unknowns, it’s questionable as to how Kanaan will do this season. Never known as a standout driver, it could be another year of mid-pack running for the series veteran.
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