IndyCar 2015 team preview: Chip Ganassi Racing Teams

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Next up on our list of teams to hit for the Verizon IndyCar Series preview is Chip Ganassi Racing. The team continues with four cars for St. Petersburg, with rookie Sage Karam joining the veteran trio of Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball.

Team: Chip Ganassi Racing
Engine/aero kits: Chevrolet
Sponsors: GE LED (No. 8), Target (No. 9), NTT Data (No. 10), Novo Nordisk (No. 83)

2014 STATS

Races: 18
Wins: 3 (Dixon 2, Kanaan 1)
Podiums: 11 (Kanaan 6, Dixon 4, Kimball 1)
Pole Positions: 1 (Dixon)
Fastest Laps: 5 (Dixon 3, Kanaan 1, Briscoe 1)
Points: 2011 (Dixon 604, Kanaan 544, Briscoe 461, Kimball 402)
Laps Led: 509 (Kanaan 407, Dixon 97, Briscoe 5)
Championship Position: 3rd (Dixon), 7th (Kanaan), 11th (Briscoe), 14th (Kimball)

2015 LINEUP (Engineer in parentheses)

8 Sage Karam (Eric Cowdin)
9 Scott Dixon (Chris Simmons)
10 Tony Kanaan (Todd Malloy)
83 Charlie Kimball (Brad Goldberg)

2014 RECAP (Dixon, Kanaan, Briscoe, Kimball driver recaps)

There was plenty of change for Ganassi at the start of the season, with Dario Franchitti medically forced into retirement and Tony Kanaan, originally signed to the team’s fourth car, moving over to replace his good friend in the No. 10 with Ryan Briscoe back in the fold as well. The team also switched from Honda to Chevrolet engines and the meshing of parts took a bit longer than anticipated. By the second half, the team was back to firing on all cylinders; Dixon was great as always and Kanaan had one of his better seasons in years.

2015 OUTLOOK

Last year it was the drivers and engines that were changing. This year, it’s engineers and aero kits. Ganassi’s run of success in North American open-wheel racing began nearly 20 years ago in 1996, when the team discovered “the package” of a Reynard chassis, Honda engine and Firestone tires. Nineteen years later, CGR will be hoping the Chevrolet aero kit and engine will have the edge. Dixon’s longtime engineer Eric Bretzman shifts to the team’s NASCAR program and he’ll have Chris Simmons to work with; Kanaan and Todd Malloy should be a good pairing, particularly at Indianapolis; Kimball will look to recapture his 2013 form and Karam is the wild card as the rookie, very high on potential. Get used to TK in blue NTT Data colors too, while Karam’s No. 8 for St. Pete will have GE LED colors and Kanaan’s longtime engineer in Eric Cowdin.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race IndyCar stars in iRacing at Michigan

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The invite has been received, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. has another iRacing event on his schedule.

The NASCAR on NBC analyst tweeted Wednesday that he will make his debut in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge with Saturday’s race at Michigan Speedway. The race will be shown live on NBCSN at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

The 2-mile oval was chosen by IndyCar drivers as the third track in the six-race series. Earnhardt heartily endorsed Michigan as a potential iRacing venue Monday along with Daytona and Talladega. Michigan nearly was selected by fans as the opener in the iRacing Challenge.

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Earnhardt, a longtime avid iRacing fan, had been lobbying since last Thursday that he was interested in racing with IndyCar drivers.

He has driven in the first three races of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational, finishing second to Denny Hamlin in the opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Last year, he attended his first Indianapolis 500, working as an analyst as part of NBC Sports’ inaugural broadcast of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

“I’d love to do it,” Earnhardt said Monday about joining the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “I think I’d love to get to know those guys.

“I had such a great time at the Indy 500 last year, and the reception that I received from other drivers there really meant a lot to me. So I know they’re all a lot of great dudes in that series that I already know that I’d love to get to know some of them even better.”

It already has been quite the week for Earnhardt, who was announced Monday as one of 15 nominees for the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The field for Saturday’s race at Michigan should include another  NASCAR driver in Jimmie Johnson. The seven-time Cup champion has driven the first two races of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge (and has plans to race IndyCar part time in the future).