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.

Indycar Notes: Indy Lights Looks for Expanded Grid; Ganassi, Montoya Make Sports Car Moves

Some good news for Indy Lights. HMD is teaming with Global Racing Group to field a total of four cars in the Indy Lights field in 2021. Global Racing won the 2020 Formula Regional Americas title with Linus Lundqvist driving. HMD, owned by Henry Malukas ran David Malukas and Toby Sowery in 2019 Indy Lights. Sowery won a race in 2019.

The four car effort will double the current size of the field with the four cars from Andretti Autosport. Dan Andersen, owner of the Road to Indy, expects 11-13 cars on the grid in 2021.

Ganassi to Run DPi Cadillac in IMSA

Chip Ganassi Racing reenters IMSA with a DPi Cadillac entry next year. Ganassi ran the top class of prototypes in the Grand Am series and also entered Fords in the GTLM class through 2019. He takes over the Cadillac entry from Wayne Taylor, who is switching to Acura. Drivers have not been named, but I expect Scott Dixon to be the extra driver for the endurance races.

Montoya Signs with Dragonspeed

Juan Pablo Montoya will drive for Dragonspeed int he World Endurance Championship in 2021. The two time Indianapolis 500 winner drove for Team Penske Acura in IMSA the last three years, winning the championship in 2019. he finished the season with a second place overall at the Sebring 12 Hour race last Saturday.

Montoya will team with Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley. Hanley drove Dragonspeed’s entry in the last two Indianapolis 500s. The team will not compete in any Indycar races in 2021.

Quiet at Coyne

We may have gotten spoiled the last couple of years as Dale Coyne Racing had their driver lineups set by Christmas. The quiet from the Coyne shop seems strange, but this is the way it used to be with the team.

I think some news may be coming soon, and it involves a possible new owner in Indycar. Stay tuned.

Requests

What stories would you like to see for the final six weeks of 2020? History? Reprints of previous articles? Let me know. I’m thinking of publishing some my non-racing creative writing, but I like you guys too much to bore you with that.

I will have at least one more column before Thanksgiving. Stay safe, mask up, and wash your hands.

Indycar Notes: Open Seats, A Loss for Lights, Ganassi Back in IMSA

Meyer Shank’s announcement of a second, part time car with Helio Castroneves puts another car on the grid for a third of the season, but several full time rides have yet to be filled.

Ryan Hunter-Reay is expected to return with DHL at Andretti Autosport. Hunter-Reay, the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner, has had a great relationship with DHL for the past six years. I’m not sure for how long the new deal will be. I expected Hunter-Reay to be Indy only starting in 2021.

Meanwhile, Andretti’s 26 car is still open, and there has been no news about the 98. Marco Andretti is assumed to still be in the 98, and James Hinchcliffe is presumed to drive the 26.

Other open full time rides-

Dale Coyne has not announced drivers for either of his two cars. I would not be surprised to see two new faces there next season.

A.J. Foyt Racing- Nothing yet for the 4 car.

Ed Carpenter Racing- Will the 20 have a road/street driver while Ed runs the ovals? Will Conor Daly have a full time ride and Ed brings a third car for the ovals?

Carlin Racing- I assume Max Chilton will be back for the 500 and the road/street portion. An oval driver for just three races may be hard to find.

Chip Ganassi Racing- Who will fill the oval portion for the 48?

By my count I have five open full time seats and up to three part time rides at this time.

Belardi Closes Lights Program

Brian Belardi, one of the anchors of the Indy Lights program, has closed his racing venture. Belardi has been a foundation of Indy Lights for the past decade, fielding cars for drivers such as Gabby Chaves, Zach Veach, Felix Rosenqvist, Peter Dempsey, Anders Krohn, Aaron Telitz and Shelby Blackstock.

I thank Brian Belardi for his dedication and for contributing to the series for such a long time.

It will seem strange to not see a Belardi car in the series. I understand there is some very positive news coming for the top rung of the Road to Indy soon.

Ganassi Returns to IMSA Prototypes

Chip Ganassi Racing will return to IMSA’s prototype class in 2021, fieldi9ng a Cadillac powered entry. Ganassi essentially takes over the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac as Taylor switches to Acura next year.

There is a deep pool of available drivers, including former Indycar drivers Ryan Briscoe and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Ganassi last ran in IMSA in 2018, running Ford’s GTLM cars. I miss those cars. He has run prototypes in the past.

What would really be fun is if Penske and Ganassi could run IMSA at the same time. It seems like only one of the two top Indycar teams has a sports car operation in any one year. At any rate, there should be a few more opportunities for Indycar drivers to run in the endurance races.

back tomorrow with a Sebring preview as this odd racing season wraps up.

Palou Moves to Ganassi; Team Set for Four Cars in 2021

Photo of Alex Palou from Chip Ganassi Racing

Alex Palou will move from Dale Coyne Racing to Chip Ganassi Racing for 2021. he will drive car number 10, recently vacated by Felix Rosenqvist, who was announced this morning as the drive of cqar 7 for arrow McLaren SP.

Palou’s move gives CGR two drivers who have won multiple championships on different platforms and two drivers with two years or less experience. It should be a great learning environment for Palou and teammate Marcus Ericsson.

The announcement for Chip Ganassi Racing:

Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) announced today that 23-year-old Spaniard Alex Palou will join the team’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES program in the No. 10 Honda beginning in 2021. He will team up with Six-Time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion, Indianapolis 500 and 50-time race winner Scott Dixon, Seven-Time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson, and recently re-signed Marcus Ericsson for an expanded four-car lineup in 2021. Partnership details will be announced in the off-season in preparation for the 2021 INDYCAR season and beyond. 

NOTES OF INTEREST:

About Alex Palou: In 2020, Palou spent his rookie NTT INDYCAR SERIES season with Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh where he scored his first-career podium at Road American en route to a 16th place result in the championship standings. Prior to that, he won a Super Formula Championship race in 2019, competed at the All-Japan Formula 3 championship in 2017, recorded his first race in the Formula 3 Series in 2015, and made his debut in open-wheel racing competing in the Euroformula Open Championship in 2014.

2020 Highlights: Palou debuted at the Indianapolis 500 by qualifying for the Fast 9 Pole Position Shootout in his first visit to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which resulted in an impressive seven-place starting position. The Rookie also made three starts inside the top four by qualifying third at Road America in Race 2, fourth at Mid-Ohio Race 2 and fourth again at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in Race 2. He also ran as high as 11th in championship points after Iowa Speedway.

QUOTEBOARD:

Alex Palou Driver, No. 10 Honda: “To say I’m thrilled or excited to be making this step in my career would be an understatement. Driving for Chip Ganassi is just a dream come true. I’ve followed the team for as long as I can remember, and it’s the kind of team and owner any driver would want to race for. Scott has had another tremendous season, reaching 50 wins and a sixth title, so you absolutely couldn’t ask for anything more in a teammate. I can’t wait to work with Marcus and Jimmie as well, and to start contributing to the team and getting to spend more time with everyone.” 

Mike Hull, Managing Director, Chip Ganassi Racing: “I love to watch the growth of young drivers. This year racing Indy cars has been very difficult for young drivers like Alex who hadn’t had the opportunity to visually see the tracks in advance, nor have days of practice in private team testing, or open testing or three-day weekends. Putting that into perspective, he did a heck of a job. We had an opening, and he became available, and Chip has a great eye for talent. Alex has that spark, that intangible thing you combine with talent that is a lot of fun. It’s a great exploration thing, actually. You’re exploring how far you can go, and he has one year of experience with a quality team, quality engineering and a quality teammate. He stood up to that test extremely well.”

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Chip Ganassi Racing

Ericsson Stays With Ganassi in Multi Year Deal

From Chip Gnassi Racing:

Marcus Ericsson and Chip Ganassi Racing Continue INDYCAR Partnership in New, Multi-Year Deal

Posted: October 28, 2020 Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) announced today that 30-year-old Swede Marcus Ericsson will continue in the No. 8 Honda in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES as part of a new, multi-year deal with the team. Partnership details will be announced in the off-season in preparation for the 2021 INDYCAR season and beyond.

NOTES OF INTEREST:

• About Marcus Ericsson: Marcus Ericsson is coming off his first year with Chip Ganassi Racing, finishing 12th in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES standings. Prior to his rookie season in INDYCAR in 2019, the Kumla, Sweden native most recently completed his fifth year in Formula 1 in 2018 with a total of 97 starts. Ericsson is a two-time champion (Formula BMW UK, 2007; Japanese Formula Three, 2009), and has twice claimed the Swedish Junior Racer of the Year award (2007, 2009). Ericsson also previously competed in British Formula Three, GP2 Asia and GP2.

• 2020 Rewind: Ericsson started the season with an entry that didn’t exist the year before, and piloted the No. 8 Honda to a season-best fourth-place finish at Road America. His season-best qualifying result came in the first half of the Gateway doubleheader where he started fourth, and overall he scored nine top-10 finishes in the 14 races in his first year with the organization.

QUOTEBOARD:

• Marcus Ericsson, Driver, No. 8 Honda: “I’m very happy to continue my relationship with Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda and HPD into 2021 and beyond. I want to thank Chip and the whole CGR organization for their trust in me. Chip Ganassi Racing is one of the best teams in motorsports and I’m proud to be part of the team. The season we’ve just finished has been full of potential and I feel confident that with what we’ve learned together this year will help us succeed in 2021. I’m looking forward to getting back in the No. 8 Honda!”

• Mike Hull, Managing Director, Chip Ganassi Racing: “Marcus proved that he belongs here, and this season he contributed to the success of our team greatly. That includes being unselfish to his teammates, especially with Scott Dixon who won the INDYCAR championship. He’s a great foundational piece of our overall program and he fits well within our group. That translates into success on the track, and we’re glad to have him continue to grow and move the team toward into the future.” Share This Article:

Indycar Works in Qualifying Amid Big News Days

Good morning from the northern annex of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg media center. I hope that those of you at the track are following COVIS protocols and are staying safe.

Today’s schedule, all times Eastern:

Practice- 10:55-12:25 NBC Gold

Qualifying 3:05-4:20 NBC Gold

8:00-9:00 (tape delay) NBCSN

I will have a spoiler alert report after qualifying. The pole winner will not be in the headline.

There were several bits of news yesterday, and I understand some more news is coming around 2 pm today.

Firestone has extended its sponsorship agreement for this race through 2023. Should St. Pete remain as the opening race of the season, this venue will be our first look at the new 2.4 liter engine with a hybrid system. the news is also encouraging in that a company in these uncertain times is willing to make a commitment for that length of time.

Last night Team Penske made it official that three time VA Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin will drivea fourth entry for the team in the NTT Indycar Series in 2021. McLaughlin makes his Indycar debut this weekend. A link to the announcement can be found here:

https://thepitwindow.blog/2020/10/23/team-penske-adds-mclaughlin-to-indycar-for-2021/

Scott McLaughlin addresses the media in Austin in February

Per Adam Stern, Chip Ganassi Racing has secured sponsorship for Jimmie Johnson to the road and street courses in 2021. An announcement is expected soon. This may be the 2 pm announcement,scheduled for today.

Last, best wishes for a speedy recovery to my friend Jake Query, who is recovering from a heart attack, and resting comfortably in Indianapolis.

Back after practice