How much weight is there on the shoulders of Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball and Sage Karam?
There could be a lot.
This hypothetical weight isn’t the kind that comes with winning yet another Indianapolis 500 (four) or series championship (10 in CART/IndyCar).
It’s the kind that comes with your next win possibly being Chip Ganassi’s 100th as an IndyCar owner.
The wait for No. 100 began as soon as Scott Dixon won last June’s Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway for his second win of the year.
It continues this weekend in the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway, a track Ganassi has won at twice (2008, 09′) before Andretti won the next five races.
The road to No. 100 for Ganassi began when the former CART driver became a team owner on April 1, 1990. Four years later, CGR scored its first win with Michael Andretti in the season opening Australian FAI Indy Car Grand Prix at Surfer’s Paradise.
Thirty drivers have competed for Ganassi, who has 99 wins and 10 championships with five of those drivers.
The current stable of Ganassi drivers have combined to win 38 races for the owner: Dixon has 36, Kanaan and Kimball each have one and Karam has none in his part-time rookie season.
These drivers have a mixed bag at Iowa. Dixon, who earned his first win for Ganassi in 2003 at Homestead, and has two poles to his name at the .894-mile track (2007, ’08).
“Iowa is such a little bullring, it’s so fast,” Dixon said in a release. “The G-loadings that you’re getting and how quick they get the cars to perform around the track is spectacular.”
But in Dixon’s eight starts there, he has yet to finish on the podium. His best finish is fourth, three times.
“I’ve got a little bit of work to do,” Dixon said.
Kanaan, who earned his only Ganassi win thus far in the 2014 finale at Fontana, may represent CGR’s best chance to win at Iowa. The Brazilian started Andretti’s Iowa dominance in 2010, when he led 62 laps on the way to the win.
Kanaan has finished on the podium in all four races since, leading a total of 334 laps. That included leading 247 last year, before he stayed out on a final caution and then lost out to Ryan Hunter-Reay, who pitted for fresh tires and won the race.
“I can’t wait to get back to Iowa this weekend – there’s just something about these short ovals that I love,” said Kanaan, who has three podium finishes in 2015, with two on ovals. “It’s always such an exciting race, and with the way we’ve been running this season, I don’t see this weekend’s race being any different.”
Kimball’s only win came in 2013 at Mid-Ohio. His best result in four starts at Iowa is 10th last year.
“Iowa Speedway is definitely a physically and mentally demanding track, but I think that’s one reason we enjoy the challenge of it,” Kimball said. “I know the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet will be fast in clean air, but we’ll just need to work on running in traffic to make sure we can stay up front.”
Karam has ran in 10 races in two years for Ganassi. If Karam were to win, he’d be upstaging three veterans and two former champions to earn his first and Ganassi’s 100th win.
Saturday is Karam’s first IndyCar start at Iowa, but in his championship-winning single year in Indy Lights, the Nazareth, Pa., native scored one of his three wins at the track.
Despite crashing out of the Milwuakee race Sunday, Karam has shown improvements as the season’s progressed. He qualified a career-best third at Milwaukee, a race after leading the first five laps of his career at Fontana and earning his best finish in fifth.
“I feel like we have some momentum on our side with the No. 8 car program,” Karam said. “I love Iowa and was a big fan of driving this track in the ladder series. We need a good result and to continue to move forward, and I hope we can get it this weekend and capitalize on all the hard work that’s gone into this program.”