Hunter-Reay said the circumstances surrounding Kanaan's win "is just part of racing" and that he shouldn't feel that the biggest victory of his racing career is tainted in any way.

"Tony's put in his time there," Hunter-Reay said. "He's had great cars that crashed, that broke on him. He's had bad luck. He certainly deserved it. He's had so many times when he could've won the race when things didn't go his way. This is the first time I can say I could have won the race. I probably have four or five more of those to catch up with Tony."

History in Baltimore

Until his victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, one of Kanaan's biggest career achievements had been his durability. Since moving up from CART in 2002, Kanaan has started 267 of 271 races, missing just four races in 2003 while his broken left arm mended. His start in the Grand Prix of Baltimore will be his 212th straight, eclipsing the record set by Vasser.

"You never think about those kinds of things, but obviously over the years time flies," said Kanaan, who still has a metal plate and two screws in the arm he broke a decade ago and has been driving with torn ligaments in his hand for most of the 2013 season.

"There's no coincidence that we've been around for this long. Nobody would hang for this long if you weren't good at what you do. I like to break records, especially that I can rub it into my good friend and boss [Vasser]."

Vasser jokes that he could just pull Kanaan from the cockpit Sunday, but then quickly adds, "I think it's pretty fitting, a little serendipity."

Kanaan's return to Baltimore, where he finished fourth last year, will also stir memories of what happened during practice on race day. With his car coming down the straightaway on Pratt Street at 190 mph, Kanaan's brakes failed and he crashed hard into the back of fellow Brazilian Helio Castroneves' car. Kanaan's car went airborne. Heading toward a concrete wall, Kanaan managed to hit the protective tire barrier instead.

"I try not to think about those moments," said Kanaan, who concedes that it was "by far" one of his biggest scares on the track.

"But Baltimore has been quite an eventful race for me. We haven't done as well as we'd like. But going back to breaking the record there, it's going to balance out."

The scare didn't make Kanaan think about the end of his career. At the same age when Vasser began making his transition from driver to owner, Kanaan is still thinking about his next race, his next win.

"I don't worry about the age. You have to be physically fit," said Kanaan, who works out regularly and has competed in a number of triathlons. "Obviously when I'm 60, age will become a problem. Age is just a number. I don't have a number in my mind. My number will be the day I'm not competitive and I'll do something else."

don.markus@baltsun.com



Baltimore Grand Prix 2013 news from The Baltimore Sun