Ganassi sets INDYCAR squads
It was standing room only at the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) show in Indianapolis as Chip Ganassi Racing announced its INDYCAR lineup for the 2014 season and beyond. There’s been plenty of conjecture, hundreds of rumors and truths/lies bandied about the past month or so since Dario Franchitti announced his need to relinquish his drive in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone Indy car, but today the reality was revealed.
Tony Kanaan, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion and 2004 IndyCar Series titleholder (who finished every lap of every race in securing that title) will take over his best friend’s ride – as Franchitti had hoped – and pilot the vaunted No. 10 in 2014 and, presumably, for many years to come.
The No. 8 NTT Data Indy car, which was supposed to be Kanaan’s ride now goes to Ryan Briscoe, who first drove an Indy car with Ganassi in 2004, after being a test driver for Toyota’s Formula 1 team. Briscoe drove for Ganassi the following years, then went with Team Penske and drove for Ganassi in the 8 at Indy this year. In other news, Briscoe became the father of a baby girl just eight days ago – and got his first night’s sleep in a while at an Indianapolis hotel last night!
Not only were Kanaan and Briscoe on hand to reveal their new rides, the team also brought in three-time reigning champion Scott Dixon, teammate Charlie Kimball and new NASCAR Sprint Car Series No. 42 driver Kyle Larson to the press conference. As managing director Mike Hull succinctly put it, “We are all about the team, not the individual members.” Hull emphasized that Kanaan’s personal sponsors, who were considered to be a hindrance to his move, now are extremely excited about the idea of being partners on all four of the Ganassi cars, extending their reach far beyond the confines of a single Indy car.
Kanaan stated as much: “The teamwork that has been shown here (in accommodating everyone in making these changes to the 2014 plans) is a true reflection of Chip’s (Ganassi) style. I can’t wait to get started.” Ganassi’s squads have always had a culture of teamwork, as witnessed by the crossover of teams at each year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. For that twice-around-the-clock exercise, not only does his sports car squad take part, but the Indy car and NASCAR drivers and team members are part of the exercise. And it customarily provides either a winning – or at least a podium – result.
Hull did not rule out the possibility that there would be a fifth Ganassi car at Indianapolis this year, but that remains to be seen.
Words and Photo By Anne Proffit