Ganassi inks multi-year deal with longtime sponsor of Kanaan

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Brazilian energy drink TNT will back Indianapolis 500 champion and Chip Ganassi Racing driver Tony Kanaan in a multi-year agreement, the team announced today.

Kanaan has maintained a partnership for several seasons with the drink, which currently serves as one of the top-selling brands of its kind in his home country.

The new pact comes more than one month after Kanaan announced during the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston weekend that he would drive a fourth Ganassi car starting in 2014 with main sponsorship from NTT Data. TNT will be associated with that car, the No. 8 Chevrolet.

“TNT first came on-board with me at the end of 2010 and they were the first ones to tell me I would stay in the IndyCar Series when I had no sponsor and no team to race,” Kanaan said in a statement.

“So, I’m more than excited to have them join Chip Ganassi Racing for this new chapter of my career.  I’m looking forward to a strong season with them at Chip Ganassi Racing.”

The energy drink brand is also hopeful that Kanaan’s exploits with Ganassi will lead to growth for its business here in the States.

“I’m excited about the continued relationship with Tony, the opportunity to be associated to such a successful team like Chip Ganassi Racing, and what the future holds for TNT Energy Drink in the IndyCar Series and in the U.S. market,” said Douglas Costa, marketing director for TNT’s parent company, Grupo Petropolis.

Petropolis is Brazil’s largest beverage company and owns the Itaipava beer brand, which has also been associated with Kanaan in recent times.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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