As 37 year-old Tony Kanaan takes his 11th shot at winning the Indianapolis 500 on May 27, 2012, the 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion finds himself on a list any open wheel racer would like to avoid. In fact, many drivers would gladly trade a series of triumphs for just one magical moment at the Brickyard. Here is a look at 5 top drivers who mastered IndyCar racing, but never managed to win crown jewel of the Indy 500.
Michael Andretti: No name is better associated with frustration at the Speedway than Andretti. The historic family only possesses 1 victory here, which occurred way back in 1969 when his legendary father Mario captured the checkered flag. With 431 total laps led, no driver has stood atop the field longer than Michael Andretti without winning the race. The Pennsylvania native competed in 16 Indy 500s as a driver and was mere laps away from victory multiple times. He finished a career best 2nd in 1991, but has since won the Borg-Warner Trophy 2 times as an owner.
Dan Gurney: With numerous victories in USAC, Formula One, and even NASCAR, this New York native is unquestionably one of the best pure drivers in racing history. In the middle of his F1 career, Gurney simultaneously competed in the Indy 500 for 9 consecutive years from 1962-1970. In his final 3 attempts, the driver scored a pair of 2nd place finishes in 1968 and 1969 and also a 3rd place effort in 1970. Nevertheless, Gurney walked away from the cockpit in the early 1970s to pursue an active second career as a team owner, car manufacturer, and even a founder of the CART series.
Scott Goodyear: The Canadian driver is currently known as the television voice of the Indianapolis 500 broadcast. However, for 15 seasons from 1987-2001, Goodyear was a strong entrant in both CART and IndyCar Series. In 11 career Indy 500 starts, he scored a pair of 2nd place finishes, but it is the manner by which he lost 3 races for which Goodyear is best remembered. In 1992, the runner-up finished a mere .043 seconds behind Al Unser Jr. In 1995, Goodyear led a race-high 42 laps, but was black flagged late for strangely passing the pace car. Finally, the racer frustratingly lost a chance at the win in 1997 due to a disastrous last lap restart.
Tony Kanaan: The KV Racing driver hopes to remove his name from this list with a victory in the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500. Kanaan has competed in the past 11 events with a career-best 2nd place finish at Indy in 2004. That was also the year that the Brazilian captured the IZOD IndyCar Series title for Andretti Green Racing. Kanaan held the race lead in 7 consecutive races from 2002-2008, but has yet to reach victory lane at the Speedway. The affable driver annually receives one of the warmest pre-race greeting from the crowd and would certainly be a popular winner if he can breakthrough in 2012.
Lloyd Ruby: Motorsports' historians generally consider Ruby to possess the best record of any driver who failed to taste the milk at Indianapolis. Strong on both oval tracks and road courses, his career highlights include victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. A contestant on the USAC circuit for over 2 decades, the American competed in every Indy 500 from 1960-1977. Ruby led 126 combined laps in 5 of those events, including a race-high 68 laps in 1966. His 3rd place showing in 1964 behind winner A.J. Foyt proved his best finish.
Yahoo! Sports, IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com, AllAmericanRacers.com, Racing-Reference.com, IndyCar.com.
More by Jeff Briscoe from Yahoo! Contributor Network:
Jeff Briscoe is a longtime follower of the IZOD IndyCar Series and a motorsports fan who prefers his racing without fenders. He resides in Florida, proud home of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.