Tony Kanaan, an eight-year veteran of the IZOD IndyCar Series, joked that he needed a GPS to find the front entrance of New Hampshire Motor Speedway Aug. 31 for the first of two days of Firestone tire testing on the 1-mile oval.
For all the racetracks and North American cities Kanaan has visited during his distinguished career, it was his first to the speedway in Loudon.
“They call us veterans nowadays,” said Kanaan, motioning to Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, a veteran at age 30. “It’s nice to come to a place I’ve never been. Having been in America for 15 years I don’t have a GPS in my cars because if I haven’t figured it out yet I should go home. This morning I got here late because I realized I didn’t know how to get to the racetrack. I stopped and asked at a gas station and once I got here I got yelled at (at the front gate) because I didn’t stop to sign in. I apologized to the guy, ‘Sorry, it’s my first time here.’ ”
Kanaan and other Brazilian drivers will be made to feel at home when they return as there’s a sizable Brazilian population in Greater Boston and in New Hampshire.
“Last night I tweeted that I landed here and all of a sudden I got a lot of responses in Portuguese,” Kanaan said. “One guy said, ‘Hey, we live here,’ so I invited him to come to the track and watch the test. It will be great if we can bring those fans back and have this place packed on the race weekend. They definitely have plenty of Brazilians on the grid nowadays to cheer for.”
Kanaan promised NHMS executive vice president Jerry Gappens that he would tweet that tickets are available for the race Aug. 14, 2011.
Kanaan, who won his first IZOD IndyCar Series race on the 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway and his most recent on the .875-mile Iowa Speedway, is looking forward to adding another short oval to the 2011 mix.
“The guys Scott and I talk to, we love this kind of track and we’re excited,” he said. “I definitely miss the short ovals. I want to thank everybody for bringing us back here.”