Indy 500: Chip Ganassi Racing pre-race notes
9 Things You Need to Know about TCGR and the Indianapolis 500 this Month
- A 1-2 start at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) is nothing new for Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR). In last season's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Brickyard 400 Reed Sorenson took the pole in the No. 41 Target car becoming the youngest polesitter in IMS history. His NSCS teammate Juan Pablo Montoya (the 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner for Target) completed the 1-2 as he qualified second. Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon roll off 1-2 this Sunday.
- Indianapolis-based TCGR has experienced an incredible start to the 2008 season as its IndyCar and Grand-Am programs have combined to win five of its first nine races. As a past owner of the Pittsburg Pirates, there's no doubt Ganassi would have liked to see his former players start the MLB season with a combined batting average of .555!
- With a strong performance through the first four races of the 2008 season, TCGR has led 53% of the total laps on both oval and road courses. On ovals alone the team has lead 62% of the total laps.
- CGR recently partnered with Nintendo and its long-time sponsor Target, to have Nintendo's newest video game, Wii Fit™, as the sponsor of 1,100 miles of auto racing this Sunday. Nintendo and Wii Fit become the primary sponsors on TCGR development driver Alex Lloyd's No. 16 Honda Dallara in the Indianapolis 500 and later in the day along with Target on the team's No. 40 Dodge in the NSCS 600 in Charlotte, N.C.
- Although TCGR has claimed the pole position for the Indianapolis 500 three times (Arie Luyendyk, Netherlands, 1993; Bruno Junqueira, Brazil, 2002; Scott Dixon, New Zealand, 2008), this year marks the first where they have swept the top two positions (Dixon-1st, Wheldon-2nd).
- Scott Dixon recorded the most consistent four-lap qualifying effort in Indianapolis 500 history. His four laps were separated by just .0049 of a second. His quickest lap was 39.9656 seconds, while his slowest lap was 39.9705 seconds. The previous record was .006 of a second by Bobby Rahal in 1992.
- In its 19-year history, CGR has amassed 94 victories (40-CART, 18-IRL, 18-Grand-Am, 6-NASCAR Cup, 6-NASCAR Nationwide, 6-ARCA), now just six victories shy of reaching the century-win mark.
- CGR currently employs more Indianapolis 500 winners than any other team in motor racing with Juan Pablo Montoya (2000), Dan Wheldon (2005) and Dario Franchitti (2007).
- Team owner Chip Ganassi will celebrate his 50th birthday on Saturday, May 24. In five career starts at the Indianapolis 500 as a driver, his highest finish was eighth in 1983.
Scott Dixon and the No. 9 Target Honda Team
International Appeal: With his pole position at IMS, Dixon became the first New Zealander to capture the coveted starting place. Only 15% of the 92 running of the Indy 500 have seen International drivers starting on pole (from seven countries). With a victory on Sunday, Dixon would become the first New Zealander to win the 500 mile race.
Nine is Fine: Dixon's pole position marked the second time the No.9 car has taken the top qualifying spot at the Indianapolis 500. Rick Mears previously accomplished the feat in 1979 and went on to win his first of four Indy 500's that year. Car No. 9 has won the Indianapolis 500 three times, most recently for TCGR on Juan Pablo Montoya's car in 2000.
Quote: "Winning the pole for the Indianapolis 500 helps your confidence level for sure. If you can go out there and consistently think you're going to be at the top, not necessarily the fastest, but in the first few spots, I think it helps you mentally for the race. That's for sure. It's kind of a fine line, especially here at Indy. You've got to be aware of respecting the place, too. I think if you get too overconfident, start making stupid mistakes, it will bite you pretty quick. Each day you're quick, for sure it helps. But it can get away quick from you as well."
Dan Wheldon and the No. 10 Target Honda Team
Money, It's Gotta Be The Shoes: Often known for his European style preference on and off the track, Wheldon will debut a new pair of British Flag-themed PUMA racing shoes Sunday for the Indianapolis 500.
Big Ten: If Wheldon scores his second career win in the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, it would mark the first time a No.10 car crossed the yard of bricks first.
Quote: "I think personally, I don't want to sound old, but I've been to this place enough now where I've seen the quickest car year after year not win the race. It's very, very rare that the quickest car wins the race here. Tony Kanaan was very quick last year. In fact, to be quite honest, I thought Kanaan had a very dominant month last year. He didn't win the race. You look at TCGR in 2006, we ran quick in pole day, in the race we had a dominant racecar, but didn't win the race. It just doesn't work like this. That's what makes the Indianapolis 500 the Indianapolis 500, because it's so unpredictable." Chip Ganassi Racing