CGR Rallycross built program through 2015, already hard at work for 2016

Ganassi and Felix Sabates. Photo: Associated Press

MotorSportsTalk takes a look back at Chip Ganassi Racing Rallycross’ first season in the Red Bull Global Rallycross. First up was a look at how the season started, and how late things came together for the two-car effort, and a further look at the season after the first couple races is below in part two.

After the opening rounds of the Red Bull Global Rallycross season – the Fort Lauderdale season opener and the non-points X Games in Austin – the new Chip Ganassi Racing Rallycross team began to settle into more of a rhythm.

The team overachieved to start, courtesy of Steve Arpin’s runner-up finish in a dynamic drive at X Games to take the Silver medal.

From Daytona, the second and third races of the Red Bull GRC regular season, CGR wasn’t necessarily in “learning the cars” or “scramble” mode as much as they were the first two races.

The season-long theme of consistency for Arpin in his No. 00 Loenbro Ford Fiesta and teammates Brian Deegan, in his No. 38 Rockstar Energy Ford and Jeff Ward in the No. 360 360fly Ford (Ward filling in for Deegan at Daytona and Washington D.C. only) was established from there.

For Deegan, a.k.a. the general of Metal Mulisha, coming into the Ganassi environment provided a welcome new home as the team started to gel.

“I’d say this season has been, as far as a team structure, my best season as far as being with a solid team,” Deegan told MotorSportsTalk.

“I feel our cars were good from the start. They’re a good chassis, a proven chassis, with a proven motor. For a first year team we were really strong.

“I would have liked to win some races, but it really came to (not enough) time, until not getting the cars before the first race. We ran out of time to do some testing.”

The team still hit some high points along the way after its better-than-expected start. Deegan’s best result came in Los Angeles while Arpin failed to podium after Daytona, but was still a regular top-five finisher.

It was clear the polar opposites on the surface meshed as teammates.

“It’s like a perfect example of opposites attract and it worked out perfectly,” Arpin said. “We couldn’t be from more polar opposite backgrounds. The best part is, I have a different way of looking at things.

“In the asphalt sections, I’ll tackled like how I did NASCAR. But he’ll look at it from the aggressive wild side. Yeah I raced dirt cars, but more like asphalt. Deegan grew up manhandling stuff around. With his view, he raised my bar a whole bunch.

“For both of us, then throw in an experienced guy like Jeff Ward, he’s got so much experience, he raised the bar again. Every time he was at the track he had something to offer. It was literally perfect… the great combination of different.”

Deegan was a bit more succinct: “We’re definitely different but it worked out well. We’d never butt heads and we helped each other throughout the year. I’ve had teammates before you can’t get along with. But this was good.”

The breakthrough event came at the season finale. A test in, of all places, the Chip Ganassi Racing parking lot gave the team enough of a boost to improve its pavement pace heading into the Las Vegas closing act.

Arpin and Deegan were pacesetters in practice, with Arpin scoring the team’s first pole position.

Then on race day, it rained, which threw everyone a curveball.

“I’ve made some fast trips down the Interstate in the rain at least!” Arpin said. “It was interesting to say the least. I learned more that day, more than any event that season. Every corner, every lap, I learned something.

“The car was incredible. The thing for me was I didn’t know what I needed to feel,” he explained. “I’m not sure how to describe it – say I needed ‘Feeling X,’ which I’d never felt that before.

“The guys had patience with me for sure. There was trial and error before I told them where the car needed to go. But once we got to the main, it drove incredibly… I couldn’t believe how much grip there was. The biggest struggle was just visibility, because we didn’t launch out front. The car itself, it was beyond belief shocking how much grip the Yokohamas made in the wet.”

The other interesting part of Las Vegas was how fluid the schedule was with the rain hitting, and how it affected preparation and condensed the time period.

“That was quite a busy schedule,” CGR Rallycross team manager Carl Goodman explained. “Usually we’ll have all our track activities over two days. With practice, qualifying and possibly the first heat on first day – the warmup, semifinal, LCQ and final.

“But for Vegas, to really make more of a day of it on the Wednesday, they had only practice on the Tuesday. It’s quite normal to not run early in the morning. You run later in the day. It’s usually very tight. Then you had the weather thrown in as well.”

Regardless of the challenges, Arpin and Deegan finished fourth and fifth in what all members of the team considered their best weekend of the season. For the year, Arpin finished sixth in points and Deegan 10th despite the limited schedule. Arpin, too, was the top finishing M-Sport Ford.

Arpin said given how the year went, that he’s even more excited about 2016. Deegan will look to spend more time in Charlotte too for additional testing.

“That’s the worst part for the other teams, and better than best part for us!” Arpin said. “We got back from Vegas and we’re digging like we’re going this weekend.

“When we did Barbados and LA, and went back there, Deegan and I were good but we had some downtime. Barbados, we were stronger yet. Then we had a good amount of downtime.

“We put into motion everything we’ve learned throughout the season. One little test, at the parking lot of CGR, and then we go out, top of practice, and top of board until the rain comes.

“With that being said, with just a bit of time to get a tiny bit of testing, I can’t wait to see what this offseason brings us.”

Goodman, too, is bullish on what 2016 could bring – since 2015 seemed to vary on who starred at any particular weekend.

“It was very interesting to see the phases. All the teams had strong times and weak times,” Goodman said. “Ken Block had a very start section. The VWs were always dangerous, and really came on strong late in the year. Herta was fast at times. OMSE cars could never be ruled out, given the history with team and series. Then they finally get a 1-2 at end of season. Nelson Piquet was good too. It was interesting to see the ebb and flow between the teams.

“Holidays? I’ve never heard of them… I’m sure everyone in racing, is familiar with working through the holidays.

“We know what we want to work on. We never plan to make up the field, make up the numbers. We have a team here to win. No one is after the participation award.”

IndyCar results, points after Detroit Grand Prix


DETROIT — Alex Palou topped the results of an NTT IndyCar Series race for the second time this season, extending his championship points lead with his victory in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who also won the GMR Grand Prix (and the Indy 500 pole position) last month, holds a 51-point lead over teammate Marcus Ericsson (ninth at Detroit) through seven of 17 races this season.

Ganassi, which placed all four of its drivers in the top 10 at Detroit, has three of the top four in the championship standings with Scott Dixon ranked fourth after a fourth at Detroit.

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Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden is third in the standings after taking a 10th at Detroit. Pato O’Ward slipped to fifth in the points after crashing and finishing 26th

Here are the IndyCar results and points standings after the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix:


Click here for the official box score from the 100-lap race on a nine-turn, 1.645-mile street course in downtown Detroit.

Lap leader summary

Full lap chart

Best section times

Full section data

Event summary

Pit stop summary

Here is the finishing order in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix with starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (1) Alex Palou, Honda, 100, Running
2. (7) Will Power, Chevrolet, 100, Running
3. (9) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 100, Running
4. (4) Scott Dixon, Honda, 100, Running
5. (13) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 100, Running
6. (12) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, 100, Running
7. (2) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 100, Running
8. (11) Marcus Armstrong, Honda, 100, Running
9. (6) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 100, Running
10. (5) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 100, Running
11. (24) Colton Herta, Honda, 100, Running
12. (17) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 100, Running
13. (8) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 100, Running
14. (20) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, 100, Running
15. (15) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 100, Running
16. (18) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 100, Running
17. (25) Jack Harvey, Honda, 100, Running
18. (14) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 100, Running
19. (23) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 100, Running
20. (19) Benjamin Pedersen, Chevrolet, 97, Running
21. (22) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 97, Running
22. (26) Sting Ray Robb, Honda, 97, Running
23. (21) David Malukas, Honda, 85, Contact
24. (3) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 80, Contact
25. (27) Graham Rahal, Honda, 50, Contact
26. (10) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 41, Contact
27. (16) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 1, Contact

Winner’s average speed: 80.922 mph; Time of Race: 02:01:58.1171; Margin of victory: 1.1843 seconds; Cautions: 7 for 32 laps; Lead changes: 10 among seven drivers. Lap Leaders: Palou 1-28; Power 29-33; O’Ward 34; Palou 35-55; Power 56-64; Palou 65; Rossi 66; Newgarden 67-68; Kirkwood 69; Ericsson 70-76; Palou 77-100.


Click here for the points tally in the race.

Here are the points standings after the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix:



Engine manufacturers

Pit stop performance

Top 10 in points: Palou 273, Ericsson 222, Newgarden 203, Dixon 194, O’Ward 191, Rossi 176, McLaughlin 175, Power 172, Herta 149, Rosenqvist 148.

Rest of the standings: Grosjean 145, Kirkwood 142, Lundgaard 136, Ilott 116, VeeKay 108, Ferrucci 105, Armstrong 101, Rahal 99, Malukas 91, Daly 88, DeFrancesco 81, Castroneves 80, Harvey 78, Canapino 77, Pagenaud 72, Pedersen 61, Robb 55, Takuma Sato 37, Ed Carpenter 27, Ryan Hunter-Reay 20, Tony Kanaan 18, Marco Andretti 13, RC Enerson 5, Katherine Legge 5.

Next race: IndyCar will head to Road America for the Sonsio Grand Prix, which will take place June 18 with coverage starting at 1 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock.