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Kanaan is home for IndyCar, but hurting

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SAO PAULO (AP) - Racing at home won't be as much fun for Tony Kanaan.

The Brazilian arrives at the Sao Paulo 300 with an injured right hand that he knows will bother him. He just doesn't know how much. He said his hand is ``still a mystery.''

Kanaan doesn't think it will keep him from driving in his 200th consecutive race Sunday, but he isn't sure if he will be able to get through the entire IndyCar event on a demanding street track.

He was hurt in a crash late in the race at Long Beach, Calif., two weeks ago. He broke no bones but he tore ligaments that will hinder some of his movements.

``The only thing I know is that it will hurt,'' Kanaan said Thursday. ``I don't know how much it will hurt and how much of the pain I'll be able to handle. I'll only know if I'll be able to drive after the first practice on Saturday morning. But, being Brazil, I know that I will have to suck it up.''

Kanaan is the driver with the most consecutive starts at IndyCar, closing in fast in the 211-race record held by one of his owners at KV Racing Technology, Jimmy Vasser. Scott Dixon of New Zealand with 141 consecutive starts and American Marco Andretti with 117 are the only other active drivers with 100-plus streaks.

The 38-year-old Kanaan has nearly 260 total races in the open-wheel series. He missed four starts in 2000 because of another injury.

Kanaan is 12th in this year's drivers' standings with 59 points, 40 behind leader Helio Castroneves of Penske. Kanaan finished fourth in the season opener in St. Petersburg but was only 13th in Alabama.

On Sunday, he will wear a brace on his injured hand and will use a special steering wheel with rubber molded to his hand. He said doctors will have to try to mobilize his thumb, which is what hurts the most when he grips the wheel.

Kanaan said he didn't do any testing on simulators since the accident because doctors told him to avoid moving his hand as much as possible. He said he followed doctors' orders, especially because he didn't think it was worth knowing ahead of time how much the injury will bother him.

He said there hasn't been any changes made by the team so far because of the injury, but there's a chance they'll make some setup adjustments to the car to try to make the steering wheel lighter and facilitate his driving.

The 2004 IRL champion was headed to a top-five finish when contact with Oriol Servia sent his car into a tire barrier with two laps remaining in Long Beach, leaving him with a 20th-place finish - and an injured hand.

``It was a silly accident but it cost me a lot,'' Kanaan said. ``When the doctors told me that it would take eight months for the injury to fully heal, I actually laughed. I thought they were joking. But there's nothing I can do. It's injured in three places, three ligaments.''

He later posted his X-ray on Twitter saying there was no major damage and he would be fine for the race in Brazil, but he arrived in Sao Paulo not as confident.

The difficult 11-turn street track, as well as the bumps over the Anhembi circuit, will likely make things harder for Kanaan over the 75 laps.

He said he's glad the changes to the track this year included lowering some of the curbs, especially at the first curve. That used to create a lot of physical stress for drivers.

``They used to hurt my hands even when I wasn't injured,'' Kanaan said. ``So I'm definitely glad that they made these changes.''


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The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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