Ganassi Racing introduces driver identification, mentor program

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Chip Ganassi Racing won’t be giving Devlin Defrancesco money, a ride or sponsorship.

Instead, the 15 year old go kart driver from Toronto, Canada will be getting Tony Kanaan.

Last Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, CGR introduced Defrancesco and Kanaan as the first of 10 pairings in its first class of the “Generation Ganassi” driver identification and mentor program.

The program is aimed to help drivers between 13 and 18 chart their way through the world of auto racing. It partners the driver with one current CGRT driver, a CGRT racing competition person and someone from CGRT business operations.

The application process opened Friday and will close on Jan. 31 with the class being announced next March.

Candidates must complete an online application process including basic background questions and a brief video essay answering why they should be selected to enter the program. Submission of a video that highlights their racing achievements, interaction with family and friends and personality is also encouraged.

“I think one of the things for me that was extremely important growing up was to understand how to behave, how to talk to the media, how to talk to the sponsors,” Kanaan said. “If you’re born with the talent, you have the talent. That’s imminent. But nowadays, it’s such a competitive field that you have to have something more. I think with an organization like this, the kids can benefit from a lot, just not taking to all of the drivers that we have but experiencing different series that we have.”

Kanaan, the 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner, will serve as mentor to the 2013 Canadian National Junior champion in karting who is part of Carlin’s efforts in the FIA Formula 4 Championship.

“Overall I think this a great opportunity, professionally,” Defrancesco said. “To be watched by a team such as Chip Ganassi, who is so renowned in motorsports due to them competing on multiple fronts and I feel very grateful for this opportunity and everything that’s been done for me so far.”

But his relationship with Kanaan is not a new one.

While Kanaan says Ganassi had his eye on Defrancesco “for quite a bit,” the IndyCar driver has been working with him since he was 8 and racing a go kart at Homestead-Miami Speedway, 50 minutes from where Kanaan lives.

“I remember going to the Florida Winter Series, it happens every January,” Kanaan said. “I was just watching and asked, ‘Who is that kid?’ At the time he was 8 years old and a crazy 8 year old. I have an 8 year old right now and I’m kind of glad he’s not as fast as Devlin was because I would have a heart attack.”

Kanaan told Defrancesco then that he didn’t think he had the money to be a sponsor but that “If I can give you any advice when you’re going through the experiences I’ve been through and try to guide you through your career, I’m up for it.”

Defrancesco took the opportunity with “two hands.”

Kanaan believes there’s plenty of driver talent to be found, but that auto racing as an industry can be “so ungrateful sometimes” compared to other sports.

“If you’re a basketball player and you’re really good, you’re going to make it to the NBA, one way or another,” Kanaan said. “In racing how many guys are probably better than Tony Kanaan or better than Kyle Larson or Jamie McMurray, but they never got the opportunity? …  We’re not going to be able to discover all of them.”

But every year, 10 hopeful drivers will be.

Adam Cianciarulo sweeps to second straight Pro Motocross 450 win

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Adam Cianciarulo (450) and Dylan Ferrandis (250) swept both motos of their divisions Saturday in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship event at Spring Creek MX Park in Millville, Minnesota, significantly impacting the points standings.

After scoring his first career victory Sept. 8 at RedBud, Cianciarulo made it two consecutive victories on his Monster Energy Kawasaki. He won the first moto by 1.7 seconds over Blake Baggett and the second moto by 2.7 seconds over Baggett.

“Man, what a dream come true,” Cianciarulo said. “I really wanted to go 1-1 last round at RedBud and had that silly mistake. Today, we got the job done and made it happen. Two consecutive victories in the 450 Class just feels really good. I just want to keep the ball rolling.”

With three rounds remaining, Cianciarulo is ranked second in the standings at a 15-point deficit to Zach Osborne, who won three of the first five rounds.

In the 250 standings, Dylan Ferrandis jumped ahead of Jeremy Martin (who won three consecutive events earlier in the season) by three points (257-254).

Dylan Ferrandis swept both motos for his second win of the season in the 250 class (Align Media).

Ferrandis beat third-ranked RJ Hampshire in the first moto and nipping Martin by 0.4 seconds in the second.

“That was a difficult race in the second moto and the pressure was on,” Ferrandis said. “It was really good for me to have that battle and come out on top in the second moto. The championship is really close and I think that we were able to put on a good show for everyone today. Jeremy [Martin] and I have a good relationship I think and we congratulated each other and talked about the battle after the race.”

NEXT: The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will hold its seventh round Sept. 26 with the Geico Motorcycle WW Ranch National at Jacksonville, Florida.


RESULTS

Thor Spring Creek National (Spring Creek MX Park, Millville, Minnesota)

450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)

  1. Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki (1-1)
  2. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM (2-2)
  3. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha (5-4)
  4. Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (8-3)
  5. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (6-5)
  6. Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (3-10)
  7. Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Honda (7-6)
  8. Joey Savatgy, , Suzuki (9-7)
  9. Max Anstie, United Kingdom, Suzuki (10-8)
  10. Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna (4-16)

450 Class Championship Standings

  1. Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna – 235
  2. Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki – 220
  3. Marvin Musquin, France, KTM – 215
  4. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 196
  5. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha – 194
  6. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM – 190
  7. Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 173
  8. Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Honda – 141
  9. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Yamaha – 134
  10. Joey Savatgy, Tallahassee, Fla., Suzuki – 122

250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)

  1. Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha (1-1)
  2. Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda (5-2)
  3. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Suzuki (4-4)
  4. Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (3-6)
  5. Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (9-3)
  6. RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna (2-11)
  7. Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda (7-5)
  8. Jo Shimoda, Japan, Honda (12-8)
  9. Mitchell Harrison, Brighton, Mich., Kawasaki (11-9)
  10. Derek Drake, San Luis Obispo, Calif., KTM (8-12)

250 Class Championship Standings

  1. Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha – 257
  2. Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda – 254
  3. RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna – 202
  4. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Suzuki – 194
  5. Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., Yamaha – 186
  6. Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha – 164
  7. Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 162
  8. Cameron McAdoo, Sioux City, Iowa, Kawasaki – 140
  9. Mitchell Harrison, Brighton, Mich., Kawasaki – 123
  10. Brandon Hartranft, Brick, N.J., KTM – 114
Adam Cianciarulo won the holeshot in both motos at Spring Creek (Align Media).