IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan showed up at NASCAR’s season finale wearing a red Target hat.
It may have been a show of support.
It also may have been a sign of things to come.
Kanaan, a Miami native, spent time with car owner Chip Ganassi as well as close friend Juan Pablo Montoya at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday. But Kanaan offered no insight into what changes might happen at Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the coming weeks.
There has been speculation that Kanaan will move from the No. 8 to the No. 10, the Target-sponsored seat that suddenly opened earlier this week when four-time IndyCar champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti abruptly walked away from racing.
“That’s not my call,” Kanaan said when asked about the potential swap. “I’m a Ganassi employee. I will do whatever they tell me to do, and I’ll be available for anything.”
Ganassi made it clear Friday it could happen.
“Is he a possibility for the 10 car?” Ganassi said. “It’s not out of the question.”
Ganassi is committed to running four cars in 2014, with Kanaan, reigning IndyCar champion Scott Dixon and Charlie Kimball in three seats.
Franchitti retired Thursday after doctors told him it would be too dangerous to continue racing because of injuries sustained in a harrowing crash last month.
Franchitti fractured his spine, broke his right ankle and suffered a concussion in the Oct. 6 race at Houston. He made contact with Takuma Sato’s car on the last lap and sailed into a fence.
The 40-year-old Franchitti underwent two surgeries on his ankle and recently returned home to Scotland to recover. Franchitti spent time in Miami with Kanaan before returning home and making his retirement announcement.
Kanaan, who signed with Ganassi in October, had been looking forward to reuniting with his former teammate.
“I’m bummed, but if I think about my friend, he’s safe,” Kanaan said. “He’s going to continue involvement with the team, so I think it’s a benefit of mine to actually have Dario more free, more available to help me as a true teammate. He’s not driving the car, but he’s so fresh out of the car, that actually for me, in a selfish way, it works out pretty good.”
Kanaan said he spoke with Franchitti since the surprising announcement.
“He was all right,” Kanaan said. “He said to me, `They didn’t give me an option. They made the decision for me.’ Knowing Dario and being a race-car driver, right now, it’s an easier time. He’s going to have flashes. First race he shows up and sees someone else driving his car, I think he’ll go through phases.
“I know Dario is pretty strong, but it’s going to be sentimental for him a couple times. The first race, the (Indy) 500.”Chip Ganassi Racing, Dario Franchitti, IndyCar, Tony Kanaan