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Kanaan savors image on Indy 500 trophy

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Tony Kanaan gave his nose a little scratch on the tip, then a quick kiss.

He had already kissed the bricks as the Indianapolis 500 winner. It was time to plant one on his image on the Borg-Warner Trophy.

Kanaan was honored this week as the latest Indy 500 winner immortalized on the trophy awarded to the winner of the IndyCar Series' most prestigious race. He won his first Indy 500 in his 12th career start at the Brickyard in May.

''The guy did a better job than I thought,'' Kanaan said at Monday's unveiling ceremony at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.

Kanaan went nose-to-nose with the trophy and got a laugh at how much it stuck out.

''I love it,'' he said. ''It actually looks better than myself right now. They did a good job, and it's staying there forever, so it's a good thing.''

He's the 100th different face on the trophy, joining drivers such as Rick Mears and A.J. Foyt.

It's fitting that Kanaan's likeness goes on the Borg-Warner trophy after the late Dan Wheldon and recently retired Dario Franchitti, two of his closest friends. He made several self-deprecating mentions after winning in May of ''his ugly face'' and ''big nose'' finally making it onto the trophy.

''Growing up seeing all the big names winning, and then lately having my two best friends Dan and Dario winning and putting my face right beside them is an honor,'' Kanaan said. ''To have the three of us in a row is like somebody had a script a long time ago, and they said that this is what's going to happen. With such a tragic end of Dan's career and with Dario retiring, it's an honor to be right beside them.''

Kanaan, and KV Racing Technologies team owners Jimmy Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven will receive their ''Baby Borg'' trophies in January.

So much has changed for Kanaan since he won at Indy. He's off to Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 2014.

Kanaan, the fourth Brazilian driver to have his image on the trophy, posted an Indy 500 winning speed of 187.431 mph that bettered the previous record of 185.981 set by Arie Luyendyk in 1990. Kanaan ended 12 years of frustration when he finally won in May, thousands of fans screaming, ''TK! TK! TK!'' on that long, final lap.

The glow from that milestone win still hasn't faded.

''I was always nice to the track, and I could never understand why she wouldn't pick me,'' Kanaan said. ''I always obeyed the rules and tried to be nice.''

The Borg-Warner Trophy debuted at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1936 with the 24 faces of the drivers who had previously won the event. There is one non-driver on the trophy, Tony Hulman, who purchased the track in 1945 and was the owner until he died in 1977.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2015
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

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