Although it was rumored by two different reporters last week, official confirmation from either team or driver of Ryan Briscoe racing for Chip Ganassi Racing at the Indianapolis 500 had not happened.
That changed Thursday night, as Ganassi confirmed his former driver to the Associated Press’ Jenna Fryer. Briscoe will be back in a fourth CGR entry, the No. 8 NTT Data Chevrolet. He raced for the team in his rookie season of IndyCar in 2005.
“A guy like that shouldn’t be sitting on the sidelines,” Ganassi told the AP. “He sat on the pole last year at the speedway. He should be in the race.”
The move confirms two intriguing subplots. Briscoe is the first full season driver from 2012 who will be switching from Chevrolet to Honda engines. Ana Beatriz raced with Chevrolet engines in two 2012 races in a joint Andretti Autosport/Conquest Racing entry, and has a Honda with Dale Coyne Racing this year, but has struggled to find a setup in the first two races. The setup information he has on Chevrolet – which locked out eight of the top nine qualifying positions at last year’s Indianapolis 500 – could be invaluable.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Briscoe is now an ex-Penske driver going back to Roger Penske’s long regarded top rival in the paddock. The bragging rights between the two teams cannot be understated. Briscoe is Ganassi’s answer to Penske’s extra car for the 500 and selected races, in Indianapolis rookie AJ Allmendinger.
Ganassi downsized from four cars split in two shops to three and one this year, opting not to replace the departed Graham Rahal.