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Nick Bromberg

Former champion Tony Kanaan loses new ride in IndyCar Series

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles

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After negotiating a buyout with Andretti Autosport, former Izod IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan signed with de Ferran Dragon Motorsports for the 2011 season.

Now that ride with de Ferran Dragon has dissolved and Kanaan may not be competing at all in the IndyCar Series in 2011.

Kanaan's deal hinged on bringing sponsorship to de Ferran Dragon, a team owned by former Indianapolis 500 winner and Penske driver Gil de Ferran.

Kanaan couldn't string together enough sponsorship.

From the Indianapolis Star:

"I came up with some money, but not enough for (de Ferran's team)," said Kanaan, who, ironically, announced a sponsorship program Tuesday with Itaipava, a Brazilian beer company that also will support Helio Castroneves. "The bottom line now is, who will give me a deal and for how many races?"

In NASCAR terms, this may be the equivalent of Bobby Labonte's nomad journey post Joe Gibbs Racing that has seen him at Petty Enterprises, Yates Racing, TRG Motorsports, Phoenix Racing and now JTG Daugherty.

Kanaan was teammates with Danica Patrick at Andretti, and the two didn't have the warmest of relationships. Kanaan and sponsor 7-11 had been with Andretti since 2003 and won the IndyCar title in 2004, but Kanaan was left sponsorless when 7-11 decided to scale back it's involvement with Andretti and only remain as a an associate on Patrick's car.

That's indicative of the state of the economy in the IndyCar Series today, especially given that the series has a lame-duck car for 2011. Drivers are having to buy their rides, which is why Kanaan and Dan Wheldon, another former series champion from Andretti are still on the sidelines as the March 27 season opener approaches.

And that's bad news for the series that may have some positive momentum heading into 2012, when the new chassis is introduced. Kanaan and Wheldon have shown that they can still be competitive in good equipment and are two of the series most marketable drivers. That marketability could be very useful if a certain aforementioned female makes the full leap to NASCAR next season.