Palou Leads Ganassi Sweep of Top Three; Kellett Okay after Crash

Alex Palou didn’t get on track until about 40 minutes remained in today’s post-qualifying practice, but he shot immediately to the top of the pylon with a 229.441 lap. he led teammates Scott Dixon and Jimmie Johnson as Chip Ganassi Racing sent a strong message for the rest of the grid prior to Race Day.

Takuma Sato broke up the CGR parade in fourth, followed Marcus Ericsson in a fourth Ganassi car. Ericsson turned the most laps of any of the Ganassi drivers, 38. Palou and Kanaan each made 31 circuits, the team low.

The rest of the top 10:

Josef Newgarden, Conor Daly, Marco Andretti, Sage Karam, and Simon Pagenaud.

The action had a race day intensity, with cars running in packs, sometimes three wide.

The month’s first incident occurred with about 30 minutes left. Dalton Kellett went high in turn 1, spun and hit the wall hard facing the wrong way. The right side of the car lifted but returned to the ground quickly. Kellett was uninjured.

Sato ran the most laps today, 106. Four other drivers, Scott McLaughlin, Christian Lundgaard, and Colton Herta also turned at least 100 laps.

Ericsson Thrives in Chaos

Marcus Ericsson doesn’t give up. He has a knack for getting back into contention after misfortune strikes during a race. Last year he won the Music City Grand Prix in Nashville despite an early incident which saw his car become airborne. In last Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix at IMS the Chip Ganassi racing driver came back to finish fourth after an off road adventure.

Ericsson talked about his knack for overcoming adversity.

“I’d like to be you know, running up front all day and having a steady race, leading the race and winning the race but yeah, it seems to be when there’s chaos we thrive so it’s just I don’t know, I think I have a you know, really good fit well, they’re, you know, good guys that are very smart and make good decisions and that helps us put us in good positions. And also for me, I you know, a driver can make a difference as well when it’s you know, harsh conditions and a lot of things happening and then it seemed to work in my favor.”

Passing was tricky on Tuesday, Ericsson said.

“It was pretty busy at times. There were some b ig packs running. And it’s always hard in practice because people are trying to blend out and drop back into field and it sort of gets- a few times where it gets tricky because of it but I thought our car especially towards the end of the day was really, really good, really happy in traffic. So that was promising. So looking forward to building on that again today and see if we can learn more.”

Marcus Ericsson talks to the media this morning

Today the Ganassi team may try some running as a group to get a sense of the draft and how difficult passing may be

“Yeah, I think since we are five cars, we’re gonna try and get out and do some, you know, some profit group brands. So that that is a plan, but as always, you know, we have to see how the day goes. But yeah, I think it’s one of our advantages for us being five cars that we can go out at a specific time together.”

Looking ahead to the weekend, Ericsson is wary of the weather changes and its effect on qualifying.

“It’s tough for me I find because especially around here that the weather and the temperatures really can make a car really good or really bad very quickly. So I think that’s something looking at the forecast for this week. Now. It was raining all day yesterday. I think the track is going to be pretty green to today, but it’s gonna warm up in the afternoon. So let’s see how that is. And even tomorrow is supposed to be really hot and windy. And then you look at Saturday and Sunday and it seems like it’s a cold front coming there. So I think it’s going to be quite tricky for all the teams and drivers to sort of try and get the get the car in the sort of sweet spots because around this place, you know, small changes makes a big difference. So yeah, it’s definitely a challenge and I think the experienced guys probably have a bit of upper hand there on starting you know, it’s my fourth year so I’m getting there but compared to hell, you and these guys I have a few years ago.”

I think Ericsson is a driver to watch in qualifying and the race. I have him as a dark horse to win.

Jimmie Johnson Goes Full Time

The announcement this morning that Jimmie Johnson would enter the Indianapolis 500 was not a surprise, but the fact that he will run the four other oval race was. The seven time NASCAR champion announced that he will run the entire NTT Indycar Series season in 2022. The Chip Ganassi Racing entry will bear Carvana as his primary sponsor for 16 of the 17 races. The American Legion will be on the number 48 car for one of the two Iowa races. Carvana was Johnson’s amin sponsor in 2021.

The announcement came on NBC’s Today Show. Johnson followed with this Tweet:

In 2021 Johnson only ran the road and street courses in the series. He showed steady improvement throughout the year. His best qualifying spot was 22nd, where he started in three races. Johnson had a best finish of 17th in each of the final two races at Laguna Seca and Long Beach.

Johnson tested the oval at Texas and ran a rookie orientation program at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October. He did well at IMS. Johnson needs two more laps to complete the rookie test.

The 106th running of the Indianapolis 500, scheduled for May 29, now has six rookies who will attempt to qualify. The other rookies expected to enter are Kyle Kirkwood, Callum Ilott, David Malukas, Devlin DeFrancesco, and Christian Lundgaard. There may be one or two more rookies on the entry list.

Dixon: Seven is Better than Six

Photo: Joe Skibinski, Indycar

Scott Dixon is just a couple of small steps from the rarefied air of Indycar all time greatness. In 2020 he became the third driver in history to win 50 races. Three more wins will put Dixon in second place all time, passing Mario Andretti. Repeating as series champion will tie him with A. J. Foyt at seven titles. Dixon has two goals for 2021- to repeat as series champion, which he has never done despite his six Astor Cups, and to improve the team’s qualifying efforts from last season.

On repeating and winning a seventh championship, Dixon said,

“Seven sounds a lot better than six, so why not? I’ve never been able to repeat, so that’s goal number one, is to go back-to-back.It’s always tough. I think even to win the last two out ofthree has been pretty exceptional for our team, and it’s been fantastic for PNC and welcoming them to the sport and on board the 9.

To me it would mean everything to me to be able to do that. I think even to get the sixth was — in the current landscape is extremely tough and very difficult to do. Very proud of that. The obvious goal is to add to that. That will be what we’re trying to do.”

From the weekend: O’Ward Ready to Fight for the Championship

https://wordpress.com/post/thepitwindow.blog/15202

Road course qualifying was a challenge for the Chip Ganassi racing team in 2020. Despite Dixon’s consistent finishes and four victories, he was starting mid pack. Dixon thinks they have found a solution.

“Yeah, I think we’ve found some better understanding of maybe the process of — it was kind of weird, I think ’19 we maybe had the best average of the field for qualifying position, and then ’20 was a pretty rough year, especially for road course I think for our team as a whole. Street course was okay, ovals were pretty good,with the exception I think of Iowa where we had a problem.We have some ideas. I think the problem that we’ve faced I think in recent years is when you do this testing,especially in winter months, the tracks are very cold and the conditions are extremely different to what you get to.”

Dixon also acknowledged that he has some some things to work on as a driver as well.

“You think you have a process, but we probably won’t understand it until we get into a few races and see if we can rectify it. Personally I think there’s definitely somethings I needed to change and apply differently, which I’m pretty cognizant of that and have tried to apply that I think to some of our testing thus far, even though we’ve only had two or three days.It’ll be a season-long process, I think, trying to get to that point and knowing if we can fix it.”

Dixon usually hits his stride just after the Indianapolis 500, which may explain his hot start to last season, which began in June.Indycar has not seen a back to back title winner since Dario Franchitti, who the championship in three consecutive years, 2009-2011. Dixon hopes to join his former teammate. Even if he fails to repeat, he is certain to finish in the top five.

Carvana Unveils Livery for Jimmie Johnson’s Car

Photo from @Carvana

Today is turning out to be a big day for cars numbered 48. Earlier Tony Kanaan announced his full time ride in the Brazilian Stock car series. Now, Kanaan’s other 48, the Chip Ganassi racing Indycar, revealed its new livery for the 2021 season. This is actually the livery for Jimmie Johnson, who will drive the car on the road and street courses.

It’s a nice livery, although it looks like a derivative of AMSP’s cars. In some light the trim looks orange. I think it is really a yellow. It might take a race to get used to the distinction between Johnson. O’Ward, and Rosenqvist. The blue deflector in front of the rear wheel should help fans to distinguish this car from the AMSP cars.

The car debuts at the NTT Indycar Series opener March 18 at Barber Motorsports Park.

Dixon Leads First Test Day

Photos courtesy of Vincent Anderson

Scott Dixon led a Chip Ganassi Racing 1-2-3 in the first day of testing for the 2021 season yesterday. Dixon’s best lap of 52.32 seconds on the Sebring short course was followed by teammates Marcus Ericsson and Alex Palou. Sebastien Bourdais, driving for A. J. Foyt Racing, was fourth on the day.

Marcus Ericsson

Seven time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, preparing for his first Indycar race at Barber in April, completed the most laps of the seven drivers involved Monday, 160. He was last on the speed chart, but tspeed wasn’t his objective. Johnson was there to learn the car.

Jimmie Johnson in his first full Indycar test day.

Today at Sebring Andretti Autosport and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing have their first on track test of the year.

There will be a special announcement at 11 am Eastern today regarding the Race for Equality and Change. The announcement will be streamed on Indycar.com. I’ll be back with a quick announcement summary right after the conference and somje thoughts later today.

American Legion Joins Chip Ganassi Racing

Chip, Ganassi Racing has added the American Legion to the sponsorship group for the 48 car, which will be shared by Jimmie Johnson and Tony Kanaan in 2021. American Lagion will be the primary sponsor for the Indianapolis 500 and one other race. The full announcement from the team is below.

Chip Ganassi Racing and The American Legion Announce Multi-Year NTT INDYCAR SERIES Relationship

Posted: December 01, 2020 Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) announced today a multi-year agreement with the nation’s largest veterans service organization, The American Legion, as a sponsor of the No. 48 Honda in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES represented by a combination of Seven-Time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson (street and road courses) and former Indianapolis 500 Winner and Series Champion Tony Kanaan (ovals).

“We’re excited about this new relationship with The American Legion as it allows us to further the sponsorship program on the No. 48 team with Jimmie and Tony, while also representing a very important relationship with an organization dedicated to supporting veterans,” said Chip Ganassi, team owner of Chip Ganassi Racing. “Jimmie in particular has a long-standing appreciation for the service of veterans, so it was just another reason why partnering with The American Legion on his debut in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES made sense.”

The American Legion will be featured prominently on Johnson’s No. 48 Honda during every race in the 2021 and 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The organization will also be the primary paint scheme for two races in 2021, including, “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend. Kanaan, winner of the 2013 Indianapolis 500, will be behind the wheel for those races. 

“This is truly a win-win for all involved,” said James W. “Bill” Oxford, national commander of The American Legion. “Teaming up with Chip Ganassi Racing allows The American Legion to showcase how it strengthens America every day through its programs, advocacy and support of veterans and their families. We’re looking forward to bringing that message and our mission to race fans across the country.”

The announcement comes on #GivingTuesday, a day of global giving designed to help change communities and the world. As a result, Johnson, who has family members that have served in the military, will be making a $10,000 donation to The American Legion. Johnson hopes his donation will motivate fans and the public to support our veterans by donating $48 to The American Legion. The $48 pays homage to the number 48 car that he and Kanaan will drive. Donors can visit legion.org/48 to make a gift and help celebrate this new relationship and veterans across the country.

“Our family knows firsthand how important it is to recognize our veterans,” said Johnson, who’s grandfathers and brother-in-law served in the military.  “It’s exciting to be partnering with The American Legion to be able to show our appreciation to veterans and to continue to raise public awareness and support for this special organization.  Giving Tuesday is a great day to announce this partnership and a way for fans to show their appreciation for our veterans.” 

Kanaan To Drive Ovals for Ganassi

Photo from CGR Teams Twitter page

2013 Indianapolis 500 winner and 2004 Indycar series champion Tony Kanaan signed a two year deal with Chip Ganassi Racing to drive the oval portion of the schedule for car 48. Former NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson will drive the road and street portion of the schedule in the 48.

Kanaan drove the ovals for A. J. Foyt Racing in 2020 in what was supposed to be his farewell tour. There are are just four oval races at three venues on the 2021 schedule.

CGR also announced that they have renewed their sponsorship with NTT Data.

The official announcement from Chip Ganassi Racing:

Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) announced today an agreement with Indianapolis 500 Winner, NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion and 17-time race winner Tony Kanaan to a multi-year deal to pilot the No. 48 Honda entry for the four ovals on the calendar, complementing the 13 road and street course events being contested by seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson.

Kanaan will re-join CGR (2014-2017) alongside Johnson, former teammate, six-time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion and Indianapolis 500 Winner Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson and CGR newcomer Alex Palou.

Longtime CGR and Kanaan partner NTT DATA along with Bryant, also a longtime sponsor of Kanaan and former sponsor of CGR, return to CGR, and will both have primary paint schemes as well as associate-level relationships on the No. 48 Honda and other CGR entries that will soon be announced.

NOTES OF INTEREST:

  • NTT DATA, TK and CGR: NTT DATA began its relationship with CGR in 2013 at the Indianapolis 500 partnering on the No. 8 NTT DATA entry. Kanaan first competed with CGR in 2013 in an NTT DATA-backed Daytona Prototype fielded in the Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he drove to a second-place finish. NTT DATA maintained an associate partnership with CGR on the No. 83 Indy car, became a primary partner on the No. 8 entry for the 2014 season, and then on the No. 10 entry, driven by Kanaan, in 2015 and has been on that car ever since. NTT DATA is also the official IT services partner to CGR. 
  • About Bryant: Bryant has a rich tradition in auto racing and is the longest-standing non-automotive sponsor at the Indianapolis 500. Legends like Eddie Sachs, Roger Ward, Cale Yarborough, Scott Brayton, Chip Ganassi, Stan Fox and Janet Guthrie have all driven under the Bryant Racing banner, earning a total of 16 previous race victories on other tracks. The 2021 season will mark the 14th of 15 NTT INDYCAR SERIES seasons during which Bryant has worked with Kanaan.
  • By the Numbers: In 23 seasons of Indy car racing, Brazilian Tony Kanaan has 383 starts, 17 wins, 15 poles, 78 podiums and over 4,000 laps led. He began his career in 1998 and was the 2004 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 Winner. He remains the all-time leader in consecutive starts with 318 consecutive Indy car starts, having started every race since Portland in 2001 through the first race of the 2020 season in Texas. Kanaan has been a fan favorite for decades in the series and always maintains one of the largest followings on social media in the series.