I stopped by the Chip Ganassi Racing Teams hauler area here this morning at Sonoma Raceway, and had the pleasure of speaking with team owner Chip Ganassi. Amongst the topics of conversation were yesterday's IndyCar race at Auto Club Speedway, IndyCar driver Sage Karam, and his organization's foray into Red Bull Global Rallycross.
BC: "Yesterday, was an rather eventful race at Auto Club Speedway. There was some controversy and disagreement yesterday about the race package and downforce levels. Is that the right package for IndyCar at places like Fontana?"
CG: "You know, you got to look at the drivers too, there was a lot of chopping going on. You know, those guys just hadn't had that kind of race in a while and I think it opened a lot of people's eyes.
"I mean, ultimately it didn't seem like that bad of a race until a couple crashes with guys touching wheels. And obviously you can't touch wheels in open wheel cars – I don't know when they thought you could do that. But since I've been around you couldn't do that."
"You saw [Ryan] Hunter-Reay didn't have any problem and [Ryan] Briscoe's car dug into the grass, and I don't think that's the package or anything. Hunter-Reay's car didn't get airborne. If that was asphalt there wouldn't have been a problem there. But you dug into that grass and who knows what's going to happen then.
"So, I don't think you can blame it on the package per se. I don't have a complaint about the quote unquote package."
BC: "I found it to be an entertaining race."
CG: "It was a helluva entertaining race."
When I mentioned the concern some drivers expressed Ganassi noted:
CG: "It was the type of racing we used to do a lot of and we don't do that much anymore and a lot of guys forgot about it."
|Sage Karam had a career-best fifth yesterday at Auto Club Speedway|
BC: "A person who had a really good run yesterday was Sage Karam [Karam's best career finish]. Could you talk about his day and where he is overall."
CG: "I thought he did a great job. He's been doing a good job for the most part when he gets in the car. You know, he's made some little mistakes here and there that have cost him dearly like at New Orleans and Indy. His progression is about where we thought it would be. So, I'm happy.
"You know, it's a situation today where we're beating the drums to find sponsorship for him to keep going. You know he's a good kid, he's got talent, he deserves a shot.
"I keep hearing from all these fans, 'why don't we do this, why don't we do that, and why don't we do this, and why don't we do that,' and I'd love to. But sometimes the realities of the sport hit you in the face."
Mentioning that Sebastian Saavedra replaced Karam in the #8 Chevrolet recently at Toronto
BC: "Do you anticipate that Sage will be in the following races prior to Sonoma?"
CG: "They're both sharing the car. That's what I got to do to keep the team going nowadays."
BC: "Well, four cars I would say is doing a lot."
"Yea I'm trying to help the sport."
BC: "Speaking of the sport, Global Rallycross appears to be really growing. You entered a new team Rallycross team this year. Can you talk about the opportunity there and how that's been going?"
CG: "Yea, we're really happy with it. It's our first time you know, we've been on the podium at every race, we got a Silver Medal at the X-Games our first time there, that was good. You know, it's kind of like internet retail. They keep giving us these numbers, that it grows by '1000% of this and 900% of that' and I think you got to keep in mind the starting point. But it's growing fast, and it's got a lot of interest and it's got a lot of fun.
"The interesting thing for me is it's racing made for television. What we've been participating in for year is 'televised races.' Make sure you get, there's a difference between a race made for television and a televised race.
BC: "Before I let you go. Your organization has been very good to AutoRacing1 over the years so we thank you for that."
CG: "No problem."
BC: "Last thing, Kyle Larson broke the track record yesterday which used to belong to your other driver Jamie McMurray. What are your chances for today?"
CG: "I got to run to our race meeting right now, and I'll give you a better idea after that."
Brian C. reporting from Sonoma Raceway