IndyCar Driver Tony Kanaan Prepared For Fresh Start in 2011 With New Team

Sabrina SmithContributor IJanuary 5, 2011

SONOMA, CA - AUGUST 21:  Tony Kanaan of Brazil, driver of the #11 Team 7-Eleven/Dr. Pepper Andretti Autosport Dallara Honda, looks on during practice for the IZOD IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway on August 21, 2010 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Veteran Izod IndyCar Series driver Tony Kanaan will race for de Ferran Dragon Racing next season. For the first time since 2001, Tony Kanaan will not drive the 7-Eleven machine for Michael Andretti.

Kanaan, who just turned 35, was released from the final three years of his contract with Andretti Autosport when the team was unable to replace sponsor 7-Eleven.

Kanaan won the IndyCar Championship for Michael Andretti's team in 2004 and has a total of 14 wins in 132 starts. He has finished in the top six of the standings in each of his eight full seasons.

Hewlett Packard will provide primary sponsorship for the team's car.

Both sides are extremely excited at the opportunity that has been presented to them, and coming right before Christmas is the ultimate present.

"I don't want to call Gil Santa, but this is really a great Christmas present for me," Kanaan said. "I am really excited to be working with de Ferran Dragon Racing."

Kanaan's move to de Ferran Dragon Racing is one of many moves that have already been made this off-season.

Dan Wheldon has been replaced by J.R. Hildebrand in the National Guard machine, while Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball were both added to the Chip Ganassi team, strengthening their count to four cars.

Dixon and Franchitti will remain in their current positions, while Rahal will drive the No. 38 car, and Kimball the No. 83 car.

Helio Castroneves will also be driving a special schemed car at this year's Indy 500, and all of Team Penske will have Pennzoil as a main sponsor for most of the season. They have added several sponsors for all three cars.

As the driver changes continue to unfold, the vehicle manufacturing changes will also add more excitement and buzz around the sport for years to come.