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: 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.

Castroneves Returns to Indycar; 6 Race Program with Meyer Shank

Three time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will run six races in the 2021 NTT Indycar series in Meyer Shank Racing’s second car. Castroneves willenter the events at Barber, Long Beach, the Indianapolis 500, The IMS road course race in August, Portland, and Laguna Seca.

Castroneves, 45, has run in the IMSA Weather Tech series the last three years for Roger Penske’s Acura team. he and teammate Ricky Taylor could clinch the championship this weekend at Sebring. Castroneves has run the Indianapolis 500 the past three years. In 2020 he also raced in both races at the Harvest Grand Prix at IMS for Arrow McLaren SP.

Michael Shank slowly built up to a full time schedule with current Indycar driver Jack Harvey. He ran a six race schedule, then a 10 race program, and in 2020 became a full time program. he plans to follow a similar schedule with the second car.

With Penske dissolving his sports car team and Shank assuming one of the Acura prototypes, it is not a huge leap to think that Castroneves will fill the rest of 2021 in the IMSA series.

Indycar Notes- Is Mario Out of a Ride? Honda Ends Fastest Seat in Sports Commitment

Photo: Mario Andretti drives the two seater before the start of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Indycar photo, Chris Jones

A story that got curiouser and curiouser finally reached its conclusion this morning.

An article in The Drive by Steve Cole Smith on October 31 indicated that !969 Indianapolis 500 winner and World Champion Mario Andretti will not return to drive Honda’s Fastest Seat in Sports, the 2 seater that leads the grid before the start of races. Smith said he learned at St. Pete that Honda is removing Andretti from the ride.

Andretti later responded with a Tweet saying this was “Fake news.”

Robin Miller of Racer magazine in a story yesterday (November 1) says that Honda has denied firing Mario. Mario also stated his desire to continue with the program, which began in 2005.

Just a couple of hours ago, Marshall Pruett of Racer reports that Honda is ending its sponsorship of the Fastest Seat in Sports. Indycar is seeking a new sponsor for the program. The question left is, will Mario Andretti still be driving?

Testing at Barber Today

21 cars will participate in the first official day of offseason testing for the NTT Indycar Series today. First time drivers taking part are three time Australian Supercars Champion Scott McLaughlin for Team Penske, seven time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson for Chip Ganassi racing, and Formula E champion Antonio Felix da Costa for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. The da Costa test is a courtesy test and not expected to lead to an Indycar ride.

The testing list, from Nathan Brown’s Twitter feed:

St. Pete Tears Down Track

My Eyes in Florida tells me that the St. Pete track is being torn down, to be rebuilt late February next year. the podiums for the race winner and championship celebrations are still up as of this morning. I would think they would leave the grandstands up as they did all summer. There is actually less time between the March 2021 race and the race two weekends ago than there was between the original date for this year and when the race was held.

Victory Lap Celebration: Hinchcliffe Keeps it Light

Photo: Scott Dixon accepts the Astor Cup, his sixth.

The NTT Indycar Series Victory Lap celebration last evening, hosted by James Hinchcliffe, honored Series champion Scott Dixon and others for their achievements during the just completed 2020 season. Hoinchcliffe created an oscar style atnosphere, with an opening monologue and lists of nominees for some awards. His best line came early, talking about the milestones some drivers met this season.

“Scott Dixon’s 50th win, Will Power’s 60th pole, Colton Herta shaving for the first time.” Hinchcliffe quipped.

Several recipients joined the host at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum for one on one segments while others, notably Power and Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato, accepted their awards via Zoom.

Noticing the unmade bed in the background as he talked with Power about his P1 Pole award for garnering the most poles, Hinchcliffe noted,

“I see you’re faster on the track than you are at making a bed.”

Mark Miles appeared and discussed the challenges of 2020. He said the biggest challenge was keeping everyone’s morale up. Miles praised Roger Penske for always staying,”positive, determined, and focused.”

Jay Frye said the series learned to be flexible and will keep many things they learned going forward. Frye indicated the double header qualifying format for ovals will remain. he hopes to not have to alter the schedule next year.

“It seems like we ran 50 races this year,” he said.

Doug Boles revealed the logo for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500after a short video explaining what each element of it represented.

I find this logo a little cold. It doesn’t have the dynamic feeling of the ,past few logos. if they just had a silhouette of the Pagoda I think it would be better. Once again, they failed to ask for my input.

Alexander Rossi won the Fan Favorite Award, and Marco Andretti won an award for the best on track moment for winning the pole for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Rookie of the Year Rinus VeeKay talked about his first year in the series. VeeKay had a pole, a podium, five top tens , and three top 5s in leading the first year class.

The program was an entertaining hour and a few minutes. If you didn’t get a chance to watch last night, the show is available on YouTube.

It was a nice way to end what was a difficult season. the entire series deserves an award just for getting a season in.

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

Rosenqvist to AMSP is Official; Dragonspeed Closes Indycar Program

Arrow McLaren SP officially confirmed felix rosenqvist as driver the number 7 car for 2021. The Swedish driver completed his second year in the Indycar series with Chip ganhassi racing. Rosenqvist finished 11th in the season standings and got his first Indycar win at Road America in race 2.

The announcement from the team:

Felix Rosenqvist joins Arrow McLaren SP for 2021

Felix Rosenqvist will join Arrow McLaren SP for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, the team confirmed today, piloting the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. Rosenqvist will get his first run in the car and begin duties with the team during an upcoming test at Barber Motorsports Park on November 2nd.

“I can’t wait to take the next step in my career and join Arrow McLaren SP. The team has shown itself to be a consistent challenger this year and I’m looking forward to working with Pato to help take it forward,” said Rosenqvist. “I want to thank Sam, Ric, Zak, and the entire team for giving me this opportunity and I’m already working to be as prepared as possible for next season. It’s going to be fun.”

Rosenqvist, a 28-year-old from Sweden with a diverse motorsport background, will start his third season in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES, with his career accomplishments already including eight top five finishes and a win at Road America this year.

“We’ve been watching Felix since he came over to Indy Lights in 2016 and have been constantly impressed by his performance over the past two years,” said Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt. “We think that he and Pato complement each other well and together we believe they will help us on our journey forward as a team.”

“It’s not very often that you get the opportunity to combine two young, established talents like Pato and Felix,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. “I think this pairing gives us a strong driver lineup and I’m excited to see what they can do together on and off the track.”

Rosenqvist will team up with Arrow McLaren SP driver Pato O’Ward, who finished his first full season in fourth place and looks forward to combining efforts with his former on-track rival.

“I am looking forward to working alongside Felix. He is a driver I truly respect, in and out of the car, and I’m sure we will work well together,” said O’Ward. “I think we can learn a lot from each other to develop the strongest package possible at every race weekend together with the team.”

Follow along with the team on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube at @ArrowMcLarenSP.

Dragonspeed Closure Benefits Meyer Shank Racing

Dragonspeed has closed the doors on its Indycar program. The team debuted at St. Petersburg in 2019 with Ben Hanley. Dragonspeed appeared in the Indianapolis 500 the last two years, finishing 23rd in August.

Team owner Elton Julian cited COVID as a factor in the decision to focus on their sports car program. Julian said the pandemic set his team back two years.

Dragonspeed sold its Dallara chassis to Meyer Shank Racing. The move accelerates MSR’s plan to field a second car in the Indycar series. The plan is to build the schedule gradually as they ddi with Jack Harvey’s now full time entry.

It’s sad to see a team leave the series, but the silver lining could be Meyer Shank adding another entry to the grid.

IMS Test Postponed to Friday

The scheduled Thursday Indycar test has been postponed to tomorrow, Friday, October 3,0 due to inclement weather. Trust me, it’s not clement. Fans are welcome to watch from the turn 2 mounds.

Enter at gate 2, where you will indergo a temperature screening. Facial coverings are required at all times and no food or drink is allowed on the mounds.

Scheduled to participate in the test are Scott Dixon, Takuma Sato, Josef Newgarden, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ed Carpenter, and Pato O’Ward.

Newgarden and Sato tested Wednesday as the series experimented with some nose pieces.to create more front downforce and improve passing ability.

Yesterday Scott McLaughlin completed his Speedway Rookie Orientation Program.

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:

Season Review: What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been

Photo: Joe Skibinski, Indycar

It feels good to say that it’s time to review the 2020 Indycar season. It’s great that there was a season. All was in doubt for Roger Penske’s first year as owner of the NTT Indycar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after the opening race at St. Pete was cancelled in March. After six schedule revisions, renegotiated deals, and guidance from state and local health officials, the season took place. Three race had no fans in attendance, and the other races had a limited number of fans allowed. Fans owe a huge amount of thanks to Penske, Indycar, and IMS for getting a credible schedule together for this year. Also a thank you to NBC Sports for working out broadcast windows for all the races

It was not too bad a season. There could have been more passing on the ovals, but the racing on the road and street courses was really good. Here are the things that stood out to me in 2020. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about individual teams and drivers.

Dixon, Power Move Closer to Career Leaders

Scott Dixon won his 50th career race at World Wide technology Raceway in August. He began the season winning the first three races. After a driver has won three in a season, the odds of winning a fourth go down dramatically. I expected we would have to wait until 2021 to see Dixon win number 50. He accomplished the feat the week after the Indianapolis 500, where he was the favorite and finished second. The nice thing is he won his 50th with fans present. Dixon is just two wins behind Mario Andretti in total victories. He should at least tie Andretti next season.

Will Power last year thought that reaching Andretti’s mark of 67 poles would be a difficult task. Power didn’t think it possible to win more than three poles a year with the competition as close as it is. He took five poles this season to end up within five of the career record. I can’t see A.J. Foyt’s mark of 67 wins ever being topped, but I can see Power going past Andretti for career poles.

Indycar’s Youth Movement Shows Talent

Drivers with less than two years of experience coming into the season had some brilliant moments. Pato O’Ward and Rinus VeeKay each won a pole, Felix Rosenqvist and Colton Herta each won a race , and six podiums shared by eight of the youngest drivers in the series means Indycar has some talent waiting to get their due. This season belonged mainly to the veterans, but this talented group will be near the front consistently soon.

Dixon vs. Newgarden

Is this the new Foyt vs. Andretti rivalry? Six time champion Dixon and two time champion Newgarden have split the last four titles. It’s nice that they have alternated years. Until Dixon chooses to retire, this will be the matchup to watch. Most people, including me, thought the rivalry of the future would be Newgarden and Alexander Rossi. Rossi may enter the picture again, but he will need to come back strong next season if he wants to join this battle.

Aeroscreen Proves Its Need

A frightening crash in race 1 at Iowa proved that Indycar made the right call going with the aeroscreen instead of a halo. As the field was set to go green. Colton Herta’s car hit the car in front of him and became airborne. He landed nearly on top of Rinus VeeKay. The nose of Herta’s car hit the op of th aeroscreen. The screen also prevented a piece of debris from entering the cockpit of Marcus Ericsson’s car.

While the aeroscreen is not aesthetically pleasing, it is a great advance in safety. I think it will have a better appearance on the new chassis in 2023, wher it will be built into the design.

Best Races

Strictly my opinion, but the best races of the year were The Harvest Grand Prix Race 1, Iowa race 1, both races at Road America, and The finale Sunday at St. Pete.

The Indianapolis 500 was better than I expected, but it was not as good as it has been the last few years. Not having fans in attendance detracted from the event.

. The weather forecast looks dicey for running.