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August 30, 2014

Tony Kanaan


THE MODERATOR:  We're now joined by our race winner Tony Kanaan.  This is Tony's first win of the season, his 17th career win.  Last win was at the 2013 Indianapolis 500.  His six podium, six top 5 and 12 top 10 finishes of the season.  Also the sixth race he has led laps this season.  Five of those were on ovals. 
Tony, the final race of the season, able to get a big win for yourself personally and for your team.  How rewarding is this for you after a fairly long season?
TONY KANAAN:  Big time.  It was a long time coming.  Obviously the good thing about winning the last race, you get seven months to brag about that.  Nobody's going to beat me into St. Pete. 
Extremely happy.  I think the team we struggled in the beginning of the year and we showed mid‑season how strong we were.  We won the last three races between me and Dixon. 
So extremely happy.  Long time coming for me again, and it's a big pressure in that 10 car to give Chip and Target the win.  It's a car that has won a lot of races in the past.  We finally did it.

Q.  Take us through the race.  What were some of the challenges that you guys faced throughout the race?
TONY KANAAN:  Obviously the temperature changing, the track was changing a lot.  It's a very difficult track between the seams and the dust that comes from the mountains.  It makes it extremely difficult. 
So it's a 500‑mile race.  I wasn't really trying to ride in the beginning of the race.  We were running between fifth and seventh.  And I was just hanging in there, waiting for 70, 50 laps to go to just make a move.
The guys had a great stop.  When they put me in the lead it was a little earlier than I expected, which was good.  And we just went for it.

Q.  When is Lauren due?
TONY KANAAN:  January23rd, hopefully we'll have a baby.
Do we know whether it's a boy or girl yet?
TONY KANAAN:  No.  We're not going to find out, I think.

Q.  You had a tense battle with Hunter‑Reay.  He ended up spinning right behind you.  Can you talk about that a little bit? 
TONY KANAAN:  I actually don't know what happened.  Because I was actually holding my line.  But it was a racing battle.  We're both here to win the race. 
I feel bad for him.  I really don't know what happened, to be honest.  I think he spun behind me.  He was trying to go to the bottom which was extremely slippery.  I wasn't trying to run there because of that.
So I think that's what caught him by surprise.

Q.  You and Dario had a moment in victory lane.  Can you share with us a little bit about what that was?
TONY KANAAN:  I was just thanking him for being my biggest supporter on the team.  He helped me adapt to the team really quick.
I actually dedicated this victory to him.  He went through a tough time.  He's a guy that's extremely healthy, extremely capable to still drive a race car and he was forced to retire.  I was grateful for what he's done for me this year, being with the time we spent.  And I said I hope you feel proud of this.  I know you're not driving it, but you won the race as well.

Q.  Yesterday on pit lane after qualifying you seemed very quiet and confident.  What was it about going into this weekend why you felt like this was your chance to win?
TONY KANAAN:  I knew I had a car.  I took a very conservative qualifying run.  I wanted to stop in the top 6.  Didn't work out quite that much.  We were seventh. 
But I wasn't just quiet.  I was just really confident.  And I kept it to myself that I knew how many things had to go right from end‑to‑end to win it.  So I was really focused.

Q.  Now having had a full year with Ganassi where you're fully integrated with the team.  You have a handle on the Chevrolet engineering, et cetera, how much more comfortable and kind of focused are you going into the offseason and heading into '15?
TONY KANAAN:  I'm extremely confident.  I think the team showed the potential when we're struggling how quick we can turn situations around.  Next year is a whole new ballgame. 
We have new aero kits coming up.  We have a lot of work to do.  But it's really good to win the season on a high note, the whole team spirit is going to be good through the winter. 
But honestly we'll celebrate today, tomorrow at the banquet, and Monday we'll go back to work.  We have six months to figure out how we're going to win the championship, Indy 500 next year.

Q.  You've won now.  You've got this off your back.  Was your car performing flawlessly and how do you feel about this race with so many cars on the lead lap when it finished?  It was quite a safe race.  Why do you think it was so successful?
TONY KANAAN:  My car wasn't like perfect.  I mean, race car drivers are never happy with the race cars, but I remember at one point I was complaining on the radio.  They said I was as fast as everybody else.  
So your perception sometimes it's not what it seems.  So the car was okay.  I think the quality of the drivers and the quality of the equipment that we have, it's making the racing seem extremely tight. 
Compared to last year, we had five cars in the lead lap and nine cars that finished the race, I think.  So I think the quality of the field is much higher.  So it's really hard. 
Nowadays you have to finish a race before you could afford to make a little mistake, still finish in the top 10.  Nowadays if you don't finish the race like you're not on the top of your game you're going to finish 22nd.

Q.  It's weird to say that Ganassi was flying under the radar this week with all the stuff, the Penske stuff.  Was that an advantage for you guys going into this race?
TONY KANAAN:  You get to the end of the season, honestly I'm the last to be the center of the attention, fighting for the championship.  But when we were not, we take advantage of that. 
We had nothing to lose.  All we did when we realized, me and Scott, we couldn't win the championship.  We sat down in the team meeting and said what's the best we can do.  And I think it was Scott to finish third and me to finish sixth in the championship.  But the best thing to do is winning races. 
And yeah, I mean, they got the attention that they deserved because they were going for the championship. 
Why are people going to worry about me or Scott?  Obviously that was the big news, but they had a lot of pressure on their plate.  They have a lot of pressure on their hands.  And we just surprised everybody and won the race.  We'll still get to celebrate the championship.  So really it is the way it is.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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