TEAM TARGET READY TO HIT THE STREETS OF ST.PETE
Chip Ganassi Racing St. Petersburg Advance Notes
Race: Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 25 (12:30 PM ET, ABC)
Track: Streets of St. Petersburg (1.8-mile street circuit)
Location: St. Petersburg, Fla.
Follow Team Target on Twitter: Continue to follow @TCGRTeams for official updates from Target Chip Ganassi Racing (TCGR).
There’s an App for that: Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (CGRT) and SapientNitro SM recently launched one of the first mobile applications for the high-velocity world of racing. This new application brings fans updated driver and event information, and exclusive content in one centralized and expansive mobile experience, bringing to life the rich heritage and legendary success of CGRT. The unique mobile application conveys the high-octane rush of the racing experience for a team that competes at the highest levels in three series – the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), IZOD IndyCar Series and GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.
Managing Director Mike Hull on St. Pete: “It’s really great to begin the 2012 INDYCAR Race Season in one of the greatest cities in the World, St. Petersburg, Florida. The character of the downtown race track is unique to other street circuits, as it uses the Albert Whitted Airport, passes the Progress Energy Baseball Stadium, the famous Pier and Marina, along with the famous Dali Museum – the race cars get quite a lot of action on real streets. All of the teams have brand new specification Dallara Chassis. Very little carries forward, so there has been a lot of off-season work from the Target group to get it right. In addition there are now three V-6 Turbo-Charged engine choices: Honda, Chevrolet, and Lotus. The engines are divided proportionately throughout the Field. Scott and Dario & the Target team have Honda engines. The fuel capacity and tire allocation have both been reduced by rule, so starting with St. Pete, although MPG will be similar, you will see three stops instead of two as has been the street and road track strategy in the past. It places a premium upon tire management as well a fuel strategy, plus there will be more than one strategy, so pay attention. This places a premium on the over-the-wall group as there will be at least one ‘short-fill,’ as well as the driver will drive to get the most on at least one of the ‘long green runs.’”
Making History Together: Minneapolis-based Target celebrates its 23rd anniversary in motorsports with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2012. Since the formation of this dominant force in motorsports, TCGR has amassed 86 victories and nine titles (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011), including three Indianapolis 500 victories (2000, 2008, 2010). The 2012 season will include two full-time entries in the IZOD IndyCar Series with Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti and a full-time entry in the NSCS for 1999 CART Champion and 2000 Indianapolis 500 Winner Juan Pablo Montoya, as Team Target continues to feature some of the world’s most accomplished race car drivers. The Target Racing Program enters 2012 with 95 wins across four series (CART/INDYCAR: 86; GRAND-AM: 4; ARCA: 4; NSCS: 1).
Racking Them Up: Team owner Chip Ganassi and CGRT had another monumental season in 2011 by increasing their number of Championships to 14. TELMEX drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas earned their third championship together in the GRAND-AM Series (2008, 2010, 2011) and the fifth GRAND-AM championship for CGRT (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011). Teammate Franchitti earned his third consecutive championship for Team Target in the IZOD IndyCar Series. It marked Ganassi’s ninth championship (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) and Franchitti’s fourth (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011) in Indy car racing.
Championship Celebration: Target drivers past and present recently celebrated Ganassi’s championship success at Target headquarters in Minneapolis. After accomplishing an historic run as the first car owner to earn four consecutive championships for the second time, Target brought together former drivers Jimmy Vasser and Alex Zanardi along with current drivers Montoya, Dixon and Franchitti for a two-day event honoring their title runs. Vasser, Zanardi and Montoya gave Ganassi his first four consecutive championships from 1996-1999. Dixon and Franchitti are following suit as they are in the midst of another four consecutive championships streak from 2008-present.
Hall-of-Famer: Ganassi joined a list of motorsports elite as a finalist for the 2012 Class for the Motorsports Hall of Fame. Other finalists included veteran driver and official, Wally Dallenbach, American auto racing owner Carl Haas and two-time Indianapolis 500 Winner Arie Luyendyk. Other names considered by the Voting Panel were Pat Patrick who served as the first president of CART, 1985 Indianapolis 500 winner Danny Sullivan and two-time CART Champion Zanardi.
Complementing Each Other: Since becoming Target teammates in 2009, Dixon and Franchitti have combined to win 22 of the last 51 IZOD IndyCar Series Races (43%). Of these 22 wins, 10 (45%) have come on road or street courses (2009: Long Beach, Toronto, Mid-Ohio, Sonoma; 2010: Edmonton, Mid-Ohio; 2011: St. Petersburg, Toronto, Mid-Ohio, Motegi).
Team History at St. Pete: TCGR has competed at the Streets of St. Petersburg since 2005, accumulating one victory (2011), five top-fives and eight top-10 finishes.
Oh!-pening Day: Since 2006, TCGR has won four of the last six IZOD IndyCar Series openers (Homestead: 2006, 2007, 2008; St. Pete: 2011).
Did You Know?: In the combined 104 street course races TCGR has competed in across CART and INDYCAR dating back to 1990, TCGR has led 1,405 of 9,354 laps, or 15%.
Dixon and the No.9 Target Team
Dixon on Twitter: Catch the latest from the driver of the No.9 Target Honda by following Dixon’s personal twitter account, @scottdixon9.
Connected: Fans can check out Dixon’s season-long blog throughout the 2012 campaign on www.Racer.com.
Year in Review: Dixon closed the 2011 season with two wins (Mid-Ohio and Motegi), two poles (Mid-Ohio and Motegi) and nine podium finishes en route to a third-place finish in the IZOD IndyCar Series driver point standings. He completed 2100 out of 2111 laps (99.5%) and led 190 in the 17 race season. Dixon had zero DNF’s (did not finish) for the year and his average starting and finishing positions were 6.2 and 6.5, respectively. The No.9 Target Honda started inside the top-10 15 times in 2011, finished on the lead lap in 14 of the 17 races and was running at the finish of every race.
Dixon Hits the Streets: Sunday’s race at St. Petersburg marks the two-time IZOD IndyCar Champion’s 187th start, his 31st start on a street course and his eighth race on this 1.8 mile course. In his previous seven starts at St. Petersburg, he has two podiums and led 57 laps, with an average starting position of 6.3 and an average finishing position of 11.7.
Looking to Rebound: Dixon started last year’s event in third position but was collected in a lap one, turn one, multi-car incident that required a lengthy stop on pit lane for numerous repairs. The team returned to action four laps down and finished 16th.
Oval King: Dixon earned the AJ Foyt Oval Championship in 2011 with a total of 216 points. He posted an average finish of 3.6 in races on ovals last season and averaged 30.9 points per race in order to take home the title. It marked the second oval championship in a row for TCGR (Franchitti won the inaugural title in 2010).
Dixon on the new Dallara: “With the new car, there will be far more variables and a wider range of setups that make you stronger in traffic or stronger running alone, or make your car great on a full tank of fuel and fresh tires, but edgy at the end of a stint. That variety of approaches creates passing.”
Dario Franchitti and the No.10 Target Team
Franchitti on Twitter: Catch the latest from the driver of the No.10 Target Honda by following Franchitti’s personal twitter account, @dariofranchitti.
Made for SPEED: Franchitti was one of seven finalists named for the 2011 SPEED Performer of the Year award, which is celebrated with the Mario Andretti Trophy. Other finalists included CGRT teammate Pruett (GRAND-AM), Sebastian Vettel (Formula One), Casey Stoner (Motocross), Ryan Villopoto (Supercross), Kyle Larson (USAC/WoO) and winner of the 2011 award, Tony Stewart (NASCAR). The trophy is presented annually by SPEED to the racer who puts a premium on winning races, shines on motor sports’ biggest stages and does it all with a measure of sportsmanship and class.
All-time Royalty: With his fourth Indy car title in 2011, Franchitti moved into a tie for second place on the all-time list for most Indy car racing Championships (A.J. Foyt – 7 and Franchitti/Mario Andretti/Sebastien Bourdais – 4). He is only the third driver in Indy car history to win at least three titles in a row (Ted Horn: 1946, 1947, 1948 and Sebastien Bourdais: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007).
Year in Review: Franchitti ended the 2011 season as the IZOD IndyCar Series Driver Points Champion with four wins (St. Petersburg, Texas Race One, Milwaukee, Toronto), two poles (Milwaukee, New Hampshire), nine podiums, 13 top-fives and 15 top-10 finishes. His average starting position was 6.2, while his average finish was 4.8. The No.10 Target Honda completed 2,014 out of 2,111 laps (95.4%) and led a series-high 884 laps (41.9%). Franchitti was running at the finish of all 17 races and finished on the lead lap in 16 of those races.
Lead by Example: In 2011, Franchitti was the only IZOD IndyCar Series driver to lead more than 100 laps in a single race, doing so on five occasions (Texas Race One, Milwaukee, Iowa, New Hampshire, Kentucky). He led in 11 different races last season, the second- highest total behind Will Power with 13.
Dario by the Numbers: St. Petersburg marks Franchitti’s 233rd Indy car start and his 51st with TCGR. The Target driver enters St. Petersburg looking to defend both his series title and his win at the track from a year ago. In his six starts on the Florida street course, he has one win (2011), one pole (2006), two podiums and has led 112 laps. Franchitti holds an average starting position of 4.7 and an average finishing position of 6.2.
Looking to Repeat: In last year’s event, Franchitti started from second position. After taking the lead on a Lap four restart, he went on to lead 94 laps and win with a margin of victory of 7.161 seconds.
Dario on the Championship: “I’m proud of the four championships and I’d like to win another one, that’s what we’re here for. You watch the way the guys on the Target Team work and you want to work harder than they do, or as hard as they do. They keep me motivated and I’d like to think I can do the same with them—just keep pushing them.”