Ganassi Racing aims for 100th IndyCar win Saturday at Iowa Speedway

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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.

source:
Michael Andretti celebrating his 1994 win at Surfer’s Paradise. (Source: Chip Ganassi Racing)

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.”

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.