It was a hugely popular victory at the speedway, where Kanaan had endured so much heartache. The Brazilian had led 221 laps coming into the race, more than any other non-winner besides Michael Andretti and Rex Mays, yet had never taken the checkered flag. He finished second in 2004 and twice finished third.
Now, his face will go on the Borg-Warner Trophy. Kanaan is an Indy 500 champion, coming through on a cool day of thrilling competition that smashed the record for most lead changes and most leaders. The crowd of some 200,000 roared when it realized that Kanaan had finally broken his Brickyard curse.
On the final lap, Kanaan lifted the visor on his helmet and appeared to dab at his eyes. When he pulled into Victory Lane, he planted a kiss on his wife, Lauren, and dunked an entire bottle of milk over his head.
The leaders came to the finish line all bunched up around Kanaan, saluting the longtime IndyCar stalwart who had longed to add the one missing piece to his resume. That was about as slow as anyone had driven all day. The average speed was 187.433 mph, another Indy record.