Penske president: IndyCar battle with Ganassi an “intense competition,” not a rivalry

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Last fall before the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series finale, Penske Racing president Tim Cindric and Target Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull spoke of their teams’ rivalry with tones of admiration and respect for the other side.

But in an interesting turn of events, Cindric has now said that he doesn’t regard the Ganassi-Penske duels for wins and championships as a rivalry at all.

In an interview with USA Today, Cindric tells writer Jeff Olson that while Chip Ganassi himself wants to think of it as a rivalry, he and Team Penske do not – explaining that it’s more of a “intense competition” instead.

“…Rivalries take place over a long period of time,” Cindric said. “If you want to think of it in baseball terms, it would be the Yankees and the [Miami] Marlins – a team with a long history against a younger team that came on strong and won a couple of World Series. Maybe that’s not a good analogy, but I don’t see it as the Yankees and Red Sox.”

He then goes on to say that Ganassi “has more to gain by putting himself in the same league as Roger [Penske],” noting his boss’ accomplishments both in and out of motorsports.

“Anytime you can compare yourself to him, it’s a positive,” Cindric says. “[Ganassi] has more to gain than Roger does by comparing himself to Chip.

“…[Ganassi’s] primary concern is how Roger is performing. Our concern is how we are performing in terms of everyone else. We wouldn’t be content just beating Chip, where I feel like Chip would be content just beating Roger.”

It must be noted that Ganassi hasn’t just been beating Penske in recent years but everyone else as well. Ganassi’s drivers have claimed five of the last six IndyCar titles (Scott Dixon – 2008, 2013; Dario Franchitti – 2009, 2010, 2011).

On the other side, Team Penske hasn’t won a title since Sam Hornish Jr. earned his third career IndyCar crown in 2006, two years before he went to NASCAR.

Still, it seems that Cindric’s comments got under the skin of Franchitti, now retired after his devastating crash last fall at Houston but still working with CGR as an advisor. Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press relays the following from St. Petersburg:

Ganassi himself also mentioned Cindric as well this morning:

Something tells us that this has been taken as “bulletin board material” by the Ganassi camp, and that may mean some added spice to the proceedings this weekend in St. Pete.

It’s official: Laguna Seca to host INDYCAR for at least next 3 seasons

Laguna Seca, from the 1991 CART race there. Photo: Getty Images
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INDYCAR made it official today: the 2019 season-ending race will move a couple of hours down the Northern California coast to WeatherTechRaceway Laguna Seca.

Sonoma Raceway, which has hosted INDYCAR since 2005 – including the last five season-ending races (that includes this year’s upcoming season finale) – will not be part of next season’s schedule.

Earlier today, the Monterey County (Calif.) Board of Supervisors, which oversees operation of the iconic racing facility, approved a three-year agreement with INDYCAR to host next year’s season finale on Sept. 20-22, 2019.

The remaining two race dates for 2020 and 2021 will be announced later, according to an INDYCAR media release.

The 2.238-mile permanent road course previously hosted CART and Champ Car World Series Indy car races from 1983 through 2004, including the season-ending races from 1989 through 1996.

“I can’t imagine a more attractive destination location for INDYCAR’s season finale,” Mark Miles, president and CEO of Hulman & Company, which owns INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said in a statement. “Monterey is a place people want to be, and we will bring all of our guests. I think it’s a great choice for us.”

Bobby Rahal, former CART/CCWS driver and current INDYCAR team co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, won four of the prior 22 previous Indy car races at Laguna Seca, all consecutively (1984-87).

“It’s great news, but I might be biased,” Rahal said. “I personally won four Indy car races there and won my first Can-Am race there. Our Indy car team won with Bryan Herta and Max Papis and our sports car team won IMSA races there.

“So I would almost bet you that Laguna Seca is the site of more victories for me as a driver and team owner combined of any track I’ve ever raced on.

“There is nothing better than the Monterey Bay area, and it’s a great circuit that always drew great crowds. So I’m thrilled to have Indy car racing coming back to a circuit I love so much. We will put on a good show, for sure.”

In addition to Rahal as a multiple winner, two-time winners at Laguna Seca were fellow current INDYCAR team co-owners Michael Andretti and Bryan Herta, INDYCAR on NBCSN analyst Paul Tracy, Danny Sullivan and Patrick Carpentier.

“The return of INDYCAR to its spiritual road racing home of Laguna Seca is a tremendous honor and testament to the appeal of Monterey, and through the support of the County of Monterey will provide a significant economic benefit to our area businesses,” said Timothy McGrane, CEO of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, “We are looking forward to creating more memories in race fans’ minds like Bobby Rahal’s four consecutive Indy car wins from 1984-1987, Mario Andretti’s farewell race in 1994 and Alex Zanardi’s last-lap overtaking of Bryan Herta in the Corkscrew in 1996 that simply became known as ‘The Pass.'”

NBC Sports Group has secured exclusive domestic television and digital media rights for INDYCAR races beginning in 2019. Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, agreed that Laguna Seca is an ideal venue to close out the schedule.

“We commend INDYCAR for returning to Laguna Seca, a historic track and an inspired place for the 2019 season finale,” Miller said. “The 2019 season will be our first as the exclusive media rights partner of INDYCAR, and we could not be more pleased to broadcast the championship from beautiful Monterrey.”

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