Ganassi hits 10 IndyCar championships with Dixon’s title (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

Target Chip Ganassi Racing has hit the double digit stratosphere.

The team captured its 10th IZOD IndyCar Series championship Saturday night courtesy of Scott Dixon, and the fifth since Team Penske won its last one in 2006 (2008 through 2011).

It’s also the last for Ganassi with Honda, for now at least, as the team shifts to Chevrolet in 2014. Interestingly Ganassi won a title with Honda in 1999, a year before switching to Toyota in the CART ranks in 2000.

Per the eponymous team owner, this one was made all the sweeter by how resilient the team was in the face of adversity earlier this year.

“This one’s pretty special, I have to say, considering how our season started,” Ganassi said. “The fact Scott Dixon did it. We had a tough, tough beginning of the season. We had a tough Indy 500. We had a tough mid-season. Obviously Honda turned it around at Pocono. Ups and downs all season. Losing my father at one point. That took a lot of wind out of my sails. Then of course the Sonoma incident and the Baltimore incident.

“We had a lot of things – these guys never, never gave up. These guys don’t know the word ‘give up.’”

Managing director Mike Hull said Dixon’s car nearly didn’t survive the overheating caused by debris chunks entering the radiator.

“I’d have to say as hot as the engine got, Honda did what we wanted them to do what they wanted to do, and that was build an engine that didn’t break under severe conditions,” he said.

Ganassi reflected lastly on winning this championship in a year when he lost his father, Floyd.

“I’m sure he’s up there smiling down on us right now,” Ganassi said, holding back tears. “He was a big part of my career and my life. You always see people in positions like this saying, I wish my mom or dad were here. I know what that feels like here.”

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

Getty Images
Leave a comment

If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.