Tony Kanaan gets going with Ganassi at Sebring

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Two days ago, Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan had some fun seeing his face on the Borg-Warner Trophy for the first time. But today, he and his new teammates at Chip Ganassi Racing are putting in work.

Kanaan (pictured), reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, and American driver Charlie Kimball are testing at Sebring International Raceway this afternoon. For Kanaan, the session marks his first test with the team after leaving KV Racing Technology at the conclusion of the 2013 season.

“I’m excited, obviously,” Kanaan said this morning. “It’s a new challenge for me. I have a lot of things to learn today as far as the way [Chip Ganassi Racing] runs things here. I’m just enjoying it. It’s a really good day for me. I can’t complain.”

Along with Kanaan joining their own ranks, CGR is now part of the Chevrolet camp after running with Honda engines from 2006 to 2013. Dixon said the team was looking to compare between both power plants as part of their test work.

“Today is more comparison stuff – go over some of the late development things we had streaming through for the season, and obviously, the big compare between Chevy and Honda and see where we need to work and see what areas are good,” he said.

“There are a lot of new relationships, so it’s good to get an early test in before Christmas and start working on relationships that we hope prosper in the new year.”

Also keen on trying out the new Chevy engines and gaining a baseline for upcoming tests this winter was Kimball, who claimed his inaugural IndyCar win this past year at Mid-Ohio as part of a solid third season in the series.

“We have a lot of work for the day and it will give a direction of which way we need to head in the next few weeks before we really start preseason testing in January and February,” he said.

As for working with Kanaan, Kimball noted that the two have gotten along well early on.

“We’ve enjoyed getting to know each other,” Kimball said. “…When we get in the car, the relationship will develop more.”

Photo Credit: INDYCAR PR

NHRA: Antron Brown on verge of earning 50th career Top Fuel win this weekend at Phoenix

Photo courtesy Toyota Racing
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When you’re used to winning championships – like three in the previous five seasons – any other season finish is disappointing.

That’s kind of how NHRA Top Fuel dragster driver Antron Brown looked at his fourth-place showing in the 2017 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

“At the end of the day, we had a very competitive season last year and made it to 10 final rounds,” Brown said. “But we got into the Countdown (NHRA’s six-race playoffs) and our timing was off.

“We struggled with a lot of problems we don’t usually have. Now it’s time for a new chapter for this team and time to get better. This is a new beginning for us and it’s going to be fun and exciting and we’re coming after them.”

Antron Brown hugs the NHRA Top Fuel championship trophy after winning it in 2016. (Photo by David Allio/Icon Sportswire)

Brown had a good start to 2018, reaching the semifinals before losing to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher in the season-opening Lucas Oil Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

“We had a great performance at Pomona and I couldn’t be more proud of what our Matco/Toyota guys did,” Brown said. “Now we are going to Phoenix where we’ve won three times (2009, 2012 and 2014, and was runner-up in 2011) and we’ll just try to hit it hard and get a fourth.”

Next up on the NHRA 24-race national event circuit is the second race of the season, this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix (Chandler, Arizona).

Brown has definite plans to make it four wins in Phoenix. And if he does that Sunday, he’ll set a significant career milestone: it would be his 50th career win driving a Top Fueler and the 66th win overall (he won 16 races in Pro Stock Motorcycle before shifting from two to four wheels).

In so doing, Brown would become only the fourth Top Fuel driver in NHRA history to hit the 50-win mark. The others are Tony Schumacher (83), Larry Dixon (62) and Joe Amato (52).

This will be the second time Brown has been racing in Phoenix this month. He was part of the preseason test there for Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock cars a week before the season began.

“Testing went really well there,” said Brown, leaving him optimistic that he can reach victory circle once again. “I love going back to Phoenix.”

Brown has been the most dominant driver in NHRA Top Fuel competition since 2012, winning more than twice the number of races (34) than the next most successful Top Fuel driver (16 by Schumacher) in that time period.

He also has a 71 percent overall win percentage, which exceeds both eight-time Top Fuel champ Schumacher and 16-time Funny Car champ John Force.

“I’m just pumped up, feeling like we’ve got some unfinished business from last year,” Brown said. “We had a good outing but didn’t close the deal, so this year, we’re looking forward to getting back there and getting off to a great start.”

NOTES: Brown will serve as honorary pace car driver for the March 4th Pennzoil 400 NASCAR Cup race at Las Vegas. He’ll be joined by teammates Matt Hagan and Leah Pritchett in a weekend full of activities that they’ll all be involved in.

“I’m really excited,” Brown said. “It’s going to be my first experience as a pace car driver, and I’m just super stoked to go out there and drive the Camry pace car for Pennzoil and start those NASCAR boys off the right way. Throttle down, pedal to the metal. I just want them to get off to a great start.”

Brown has won four times at The Strip, the drag strip adjacent to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have the opportunity,” he said. “It’s an honor to be out there with such talented drivers, and I know I’m going to really enjoy watching our NASCAR counterparts.”

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