Mag Minute

Tony Kanaan

This is an extended version of a story that appears in ESPN The Magazine's May 26 Transactions Issue. Subscribe today!

On May 25, Tony Kanaan will get behind the wheel to defend his Indianapolis 500 title (noon ET, ABC). But first, the Brazilian, in his debut season with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, took a minute to speed through our rapid-fire questions: 

How does it feel to drive 220-plus mph?
It's lonely -- just you and the machine. But it's the biggest adrenaline rush I've ever had.

What are the perks of living where you live?
The people in Miami are very famous for not being good drivers. It only helps me, because we have to have quick reflexes.

What song is at the top of your workout playlist?
Coldplay's "Magic."

What is the last thing you Googled?
How to get to ESPN.

What motivates you?
Adding trophies to the shelf.

You were born and raised in Brazil. Who do you think will win the World Cup?
You answered your own question.

What are the unwritten rules of Indy racing?
What happens inside the track between drivers, we'll keep it between drivers.

At 220 mph, how slim is the margin for error?
If you blink, it could be over.

What are your thoughts on Kurt Busch attempting to race the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600?
I think that he's very humble to accept the challenge. I appreciate a guy who wants to come and race the Indy 500. If you ask any racecar driver, that's a goal of theirs.

How do you describe the connection that you feel with the car throughout a race?
It's like when you put your best clothes on. It just fits.

How does the experience at the Indy 500 differ from other races?
It's the biggest race in the world. The energy of that place on raceday is something that I don't think I can describe. Every single racecar driver wants to win an Indy 500.

What specific tactics do you use to save your car and help it go the distance at Indy?
You set the race in two stages. It's 180 laps of just hanging around on the lead lap, trying to save fuel and not get into any trouble. Then, with 20 laps left, you just go for it.

What will be going through your mind when you fire up the car this year?
At the end of the day, either I'm going to be a two-time Indianapolis 500 champion, or I'm going to be the best Indianapolis 500 champion.

If you could go back to when you were 14 and helping feed your family by racing go-karts and offer yourself some advice, what would you say?
Don't give up. If you fall, get up and go again.

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