It's hard to imagine a driver with the popularity and prestige of Tony Kanaan not having enough funding to cover the whole season, but that's exactly where the Brazilian was prior to winning the Indianapolis 500 just a few weeks ago.
While it was unlikely that Kanaan and KV Racing would have missed a race, the possibility was completely eliminated on Wednesday as the team and driver announced a four-race partnership with Sunoco.
The sponsorship covers this weekend's race at Texas Motor Speedway as well as Iowa, Pocono and Mid-Ohio.
"That, for me, is big," Kanaan said during a Wednesday conference call. "Obviously, as everybody knew, we were struggling to fill up some of the races with the sponsorship this year. Sunoco came onboard. I can't thank them enough for picking up the races that were left for us to be able to finish the season. I'm excited about that. Hopefully we'll bring them a win soon."
The sponsorship comes in tandem with the DreamWorks animated film "Turbo," about a snail gifted with the power of speed who dreams of winning the Indianapolis 500. With Kanaan now having won the 500, this was a perfect fit for Sunoco, who is an official partner of the film as well.
"To have Tony, who just won the race in the same year the movie is coming, be willing to drive the car is just a really cool thing for us to do," said Cynthia Archer, vice president of marketing for Sunoco. "We've got a lot of excited employees and customers who are rooting that Tony is going to win a race in the Sunoco car before Turbo hits the theaters.
"That's our plan and we're looking forward to supporting him in doing that."
Kanaan enters this weekend eighth in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings but is only 47 markers behind co-leaders, Marco Andretti and Helio Castroneves. The 2013 season has been one of the most competitive on all-time and the top eight are all within one race of the top spot.
Kanaan is a former winner at Texas, having won on the high-banked oval in 2004 en route to his only IndyCar championship. He hopes to score another one on Saturday night -- in the Sunoco car.
"Why not -- I mean, my record there, it's quite good," Kanaan said. "Last year we were fighting for the win until we got blocked by Will [Power], and then we broke the front wing. I'm excited."