A favourite moment of 2004

Perhaps a few too many were given their due for Tony Kanaan's championship, and the fault lies with Kanaan himself, after incessantly deflecting the credit to other worthy parties long before he'd clinched the title

A favourite moment of 2004

There was Eric Cowdin, his engineer and longtime buddy. There was Honda, with its ridiculously fast engines and flawless transition from winning at Motegi in April to winning at Indy six weeks later with an entirely new piece. There was Michael Andretti and Kim Green and Kevin Savoree, who put together the four-car monster team that has changed the topography of the IRL IndyCar Series.

There was his wife, Dani, whose presence gave Kanaan focus and maturity. There were teammates, especially Dario Franchitti, who provided motivation and balance. There were crew members and other manufacturers and associate sponsors and, well, on and on it went.

Very few times did Tony Kanaan credit Tony Kanaan for his championship, except one. At Milwaukee in late July, he wrestled a fading car to a fourth-place finish, saving his points lead and his pride. "That was definitely my best race of the year," Kanaan said. "The reality was we missed the setup. We didn't give up, but we were like, 'Man, we are in trouble.'"

When history looks at the '04 season, it will remember three wins and 15 consecutive top-fives. It won't remember a brutal race on a one-mile oval in the middle of the season. History won't remember it, but Kanaan will.

"I carried the car that day," he said, finally taking at least a portion of the credit. "That's what I'm paid for."

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