Report: Kanaan linked to Ganassi switch, but status unofficial (UPDATED)

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According to the Associated Press’ Jenna Fryer, reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan will move to Chip Ganassi Racing’s IndyCar team in 2014. Sources spoke on condition of anonymity because no official announcement has been made.

No indication was given as to whether this would be a Target-backed car or fall under the auspices of the “G2” program operated out of Brownsburg, the shop where Charlie Kimball resides. As it is, Kanaan would be the fourth driver alongside Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Kimball.

Kanaan would serve as the first major domino to fall in the driver front for the 2014 IndyCar Series silly season. We surmised recently that Kanaan was one of the two likeliest options to move to Ganassi, along with Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe, with the likelihood that Ganassi would bring its fourth car out of a one-year hiatus.

This would not come as a major surprise given Kanaan raced for Ganassi’s GRAND-AM Rolex Series team in Indianapolis and has said he would need to package the sponsorship to stay at KV. He has achieved two major career milestones with Jimmy Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven’s team, with the Indianapolis 500 victory and his record-setting 212th straight start at Baltimore last race.

Hinchcliffe would now be all but a cinch to stay with Andretti in a fifth car, with a consortium of sponsors likely because GoDaddy is mulling whether it wants to stay on as a primary sponsor.

For KV, the situation could be less clear. This would leave just Simona de Silvestro and a second seat likely to go to the highest bidder, if at all. Stay tuned.

UPDATE, 6:15 p.m. ET: The AP report was refuted by a further report by the Indianapolis Star‘s Curt Cavin posted later this afternoon, with quotes from both Kanaan and Vasser.

Kanaan said he doesn’t have a deal either way, and Vasser has said two offers have been made to him – the latter and updated one noting he would not need to bring any funding on his own. Vasser also cited a desire to “keep the band together,” referring to a cast and crew Kanaan has worked with the majority of his career, including engineer Eric Cowdin.

I’d tend to agree with this tweet Cavin offered later, in that if Ganassi wants Kanaan, he’ll get him.

As ever though, nothing is official until the team entity – whichever team – announces it.

Josef Newgarden wins for 3rd time in 4 years in rain-shortened Honda Indy GP of Alabama

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Given how well he’s done there, they may want to consider renaming Barber Motorsports Park to Newgarden Motorsports Park.

Josef Newgarden won for the second straight year and third time in the last four races at BMP to capture Monday’s rain-delayed Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

“I like it here,” Newgarden told NBCSN. “We could do the whole series at Barber. That’d be great.”

Newgarden won his ninth career IndyCar race on what he considers his home track, just three hours from his home north of Nashville, Tennessee.

Monday’s race on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn permanent road course was a timed event of 75 minutes after Sunday’s rain-postponement after 22 laps of the scheduled 90 laps.

As it turned out, both ends of Sunday’s start and Monday’s finish, a total of 82 laps were contested.

Rain once again became an issue in about the last 15 minutes of Monday’s rescheduled event but Newgarden – who started from the pole – made a stop for rain tires with 14 minutes left and that proved to be the winning strategy. He also regains the lead in the IndyCar point standings from Long Beach winner Alexander Rossi.

“The rain made it more eventful than I would have liked,” Newgarden told NBCSN. “We had good fuel mileage and good reliability, that’s what we needed to win this race.

“It seemed like smooth sailing for the most part — we had no yellows, which we were hoping for no yellows — and then the rain crept in. … Fortunately, we had a big gap, which helped us win the race, just building that gap over the beginning part. … It’s a great day for Team Penske.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay finished second, followed by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens, with Sebastien Bourdais finishing fifth.

“Solid weekend for us,” Hinchcliffe said. “Two cars in the top 10 in qualifying and two cars in the top 5 in the race. Pretty proud of these boys. It’s good to get a couple Hondas up there. Maybe not the top steps in the podium, but we took the rest of it.”

Bourdais had hoped to finish the race on slicks and win. But he was forced to pit with 7:15 left after his car became too difficult to control in heavy rain, swapping to rain tires.

Unfortunately, pitting essentially cost Bourdais the win.

“We were in the catbird’s seat for second and were hoping that he’d get some good times on the drives in the wet, but the wet just kept coming and we had to bring him in,” team owner Dale Coyne said.

Added Bourdais, “We’re in it to win it, did everything we could, it was seemingly going to be good enough. … I think we had beaten (Newgarden). Yet, the sky opened and that was it.”

Scott Dixon finished sixth, followed by Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato, Simon Pagenaud and Marco Andretti.

Eleventh through 20th were Rossi, Matheus Leist, Zach Veach, Jordan King, Spencer Pigot, Rene Binder, Gabby Chaves, Tony Kanaan, Zach Claman De Melo and Ed Jones.

Rounding out the final three finishing positions were Will Power, Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball.

INCIDENTS:

* Spencer Pigot and rookie Zach Claman De Melo got into a tangle early on, but both were able to get going and damage appeared minimal.

* With 8:30 left, Rossi spun into the Turn 5 gravel but was able to get going.

ALSO OF NOTE:

* Will Power’s team was able to get his damaged car repaired and he was back on-track roughly 10 minutes into Monday’s action.

* Scott Dixon lost much of the electronics on his car with about 28 minutes left. He essentially had to handle things old school, going by feel. He wound up being penalized for speeding on pit road when his dashboard went out.

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