Report: Ganassi all but rules out Indy Lights program


One of the popular rumors the last month or so is that Chip Ganassi Racing would be expanding its ever-expanding motorsports empire into the top rung of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, for 2016.

Trackside Online was first to report during the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca season finale last month that a high-profile IndyCar team was exploring Indy Lights. Here’s that report:

“Word around the paddock is that one of the big-two Verizon IndyCar Series teams is evaluating starting an Indy Lights team to the point that they have been contacting potential drivers.”

It grew to the point where reported a couple weeks ago more on Ganassi’s potential would-be entry into the series.

However, as of Monday, those odds of a Ganassi Indy Lights program have grown slimmer, if not to a standstill, per a report from veteran motorsports journalist Gordon Kirby.

Kirby spoke to Ganassi directly, who had this to say of the team’s Indy Lights prospects:

“We have looked at it but I don’t know that it has any legs. If I wanted to go out and start an Indy Lights team and have a program for one year, I could do it. But I’m not looking for a one-year program. I want to do something that we can repeat year after year. I’m not interested in doing a one-year deal.”

A Ganassi Indy Lights program, in theory, would need to be multiple cars (at least two) to make the operational cost worth it. Then consider the staff requirements as well that would be needed.

Ganassi has gone about expanding his business, his race team, in the right way, and 2016 is bound to be one of the biggest seasons yet for the team.

The Verizon IndyCar Series program has three cars confirmed, with champion Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball all set to return and all having already tested this offseason. The team is working on procuring a budget for Sage Karam to continue in a fourth car.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series program will again be two cars, as Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson continue on. Meanwhile Rob Kauffman has been announced as a new partner earlier this summer, having bought into the team.

There’s a huge offseason focus on testing and development of the new Ford GT to race in both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship, a total of four cars spread across two continents, and run in partnership with well-established Canadian engineering firm Multimatic. This four-car, manufacturer program is a leap from its single-car entry in IMSA this past season, a single Riley-Ford Daytona Prototype.

Additionally, the team’s Red Bull Global Rallycross season concludes next month in Las Vegas; Steve Arpin and Brian Deegan have primarily been the two Ford Fiestas, with Jeff Ward also driving in selected rounds.

So while Ganassi could have an Indy Lights program, it would need to be added in the correct manner, and judging by Ganassi’s comments to Kirby, it doesn’t seem likely to happen for 2016 – despite the rumor mill swirling in the last month.

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Houston


Eli Tomac led all 23 laps of the Monster Energy Supercross race at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas and the results show he now has three wins in the season and is one shy of tying Ricky Carmichael’s 48 for third on the all-time list. With this win, he takes a seven point lead in the standings with 12 rounds remaining.

For Tomac at Houston, it was literally a tale of two races. Both his heat and the main started the same with Tomac grabbing the holeshot, but he was passed quickly by Chase Sexton in the heat. Tomac faded quickly after getting passed and was trailing by almost eight seconds at the checkered flag, which caused him to retreat to the hauler and reassess his lines. Without making any adjustments to the bike, Tomac entered the Main with a new attitude, and simply rode better.

Supercross Results Houston
Chase Sexton played it safe in the sand, but he was aggressive in every other turn. – Feld Motor Sports

Sexton had so great a lead in his heat that one could not even use the cliche that he left Tomac in his dust. By the time the rider with the No. 1 plate crossed the same real estate as the No. 23, the dust was well settled. Sexton had a modest start on the initial gate drop and ended Lap 1 in fourth. He worked his way past Aaron Plessinger on Lap 3 and got around Jason Anderson three laps later. Sexton was able to catch Tomac and pressure him, but he picked a safe, i.e. slow line through the sand section and could never get alongside his rival.

RESULTS: Click here for 450 Results; Click here for full 250 East Main Results

After starting the season with back-to-back seventh-place finishes, Anderson now has a pair of podiums. He won his heat and was easily one of the top three riders in the field, ultimately finishing behind the riders who finished 1-2 in the other preliminary. Anderson was subdued on the podium – happy he was there, but disappointed he has not yet found a way around the riders he is chasing in the points.

In the early stages of the race, Plessinger appeared to have a bike capable of winning. He pressured Tomac on the first two laps and was setting up the pass just as a red flag waved for an injury to Dylan Ferrandis that brought out a red flag. He lost second to Anderson on the restart and eventually slipped to fourth to score his first top-five of the season.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

Cooper Webb rounded out the top five. Along with Sexton, he is now one of just two riders with a sweep of that mark in 2023, but with Tomac’s three wins, he is beginning to slip in the points. Webb sits third in the standings, 12 points behind the leader.

Ken Roczen entered the race as the third rider with a sweep of the top five and progressively better results in the first three races of 2023. Had the pattern held, he would have finished at least second, but he struggled for most of the night, finishing fifth in his heat and eighth in the Main. There may have been extenuating circumstances, however. Ferrandis’ injury was suffered when he landed on the back of Roczen’s bike and potentially damaged the No. 94 Suzuki.

Click here for 450 Main results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points | Lap Chart

The 250 East division made their 2023 debut in Houston, but the name atop the board was familiar. Hunter Lawrence joined his brother Jett Lawrence as the early points’ leader in their respective divisions, but it didn’t come without a little anxiety.

Riding behind Supercross newbie Tom Vialle on the second lap, Lawrence was forced to take evasive action when the leader pitched his bike sideways to scrub speed over a jump. Lawrence veered left and landed off course, but he cleared the Tuff Blox and kept his bike straight. Lawrence made the pass for the lead on Lap 18 and never relinquished it.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

In his first attempt on a 250, Max Anstie ascended to the podium. – Feld Motor Sports

England’s Max Anstie made the move from 450s to 250s this year after scoring a best result of 11th on the big bike at Anaheim 2 last year. It didn’t take anytime at all to find the front for Anstie, who finished second in both his heat and main.

It has been a while since Jordon Smith stood on the podium: February 23, 2019 to be exact when he finished that well in Detroit. A series of injuries kept him off the bike for much of 2020 and 2021, but he’s proving to be a factor when he’s healthy.

Click here for 250 Main results | 250 East Rider Points | Combined Rider Points | Lap Chart

There was a lot of hype surrounding the debut of Haiden Deegan in the 250 class and he proved it was merited. He finished fourth in his heat and main. He was as far down as ninth at one point in the feature before slowly picking off riders on his way to the front.

Jeremy Martin finished fifth and now has a streak of three consecutive top-fives to his credit stretching back to last year. Unfortunately, his pair of strong runs in 2022 were interrupted by injury.

Making impressive debuts in the 250 division, Vialle recovered from a fall to finish seventh, Chance Hymas finished eighth, and Talon Hawkins just missed the top 10 with an 11th.

2023 Results

Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Chase Sexton falls
Week 1: Eli Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s