AS TEMPERATURES RISE SO DOES GANASSI
As temperatures rise at Indy 500, so does Ganassi
By Mike Brudenell
May 25, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS – It was just a pit-stop competition but it could have major implications on Sunday in the Indianapolis 500.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing scored their first victory in the annual Izod Pit Stop Challenge event on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday.
Scott Dixon was at the wheel of the No. 9 Dallara/Honda that beat Oriol Servia (Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing) by several feet across the finish line in pit lane, the Ganassi crew picking up $50,000 for the effort.
More importantly, it showed the Ganassi outfit, which fields Dixon, who won the 500 in 2008, and Dario Franchitti, winner in 2007 and 2010, is primed for the challenge.
On Friday, Franchitti, the four-time IndyCar champion, topped the speed charts at 222.360 mph in final practice for Sunday's race. Dixon was second quickest at 222.274.
They start 16th and 15th, respectively, in the 500.
"Both are capable of winning it," said team owner Chip Ganassi earlier in the day as he stood with a group of journalists on the Yard of Bricks.
So far this season, it's been all Chevrolet in the series, the Detroit automaker's engines powering Team Penske to victory in the first four races.
But the Hondas have received an engine boost by the series to help parity and Ganassi is looking to take advantage.
With Dixon's fast pit work Friday, Ganassi could add another 500 victory to his resume.
"It's a great thing to have guys like that on your team," Ganassi said of his two current drivers. "The race is wide open, and we can win this."
Temperatures will likely be brutally hot Sunday. Ganassi, a former Champ Car driver, believes that could play into the hands of his two veteran drivers and crack pit crews.
"In years past the heat has favored teams with experience, so hopefully that will be the case on Sunday," said Ganassi, who co-owns Earnhardt Ganassi Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and runs a Grand-Am Rolex Series team.
But he knows his Dallara/Hondas are in for a fierce battle with the Chevrolets.
"We have good race engines and we feel good," said Ganassi, whose drivers have rewarded him with 86 career IndyCar victories and 74 career poles. "We probably gave up a little in qualifying but I'm sure we are OK now."