As Chip Ganassi Racing celebrates its 30th anniversary in the sport, the team enjoyed one of its best starts to a season ever with four straight victories to open the NTT IndyCar Series campaign.
Five-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon won the first three races and Felix Rosenqvist gave team owner Chip Ganassi his fourth win in as many races to start the season.
Over 30 years, Ganassi has built a dynasty with 12 IndyCar Series championships (four in CART, eight in the IndyCar Series), five sports car titles, four victories in the Indianapolis 500, a Brickyard 400 win and multiple victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring, as well as a 24 Hours of Le Mans triumph with the Ford GT in 2017.
The team had won 226 races through the end of July.
Only Team Penske has been as successful for a longer period of time than Chip Ganassi Racing.
Even a two-month shutdown because of COVID-19 did not keep CGR from achieving racing greatness.
“During the shutdown, the guys worked hard, and we were prepared when we showed up to the race track,” Ganassi told SPEED SPORT. “In this business, you are only as good as your last race. We want to keep Dixie (Scott Dixon) at the sharp end of the stick and keep all three cars in the top 10 in IndyCar.”
Dixon has already established himself as one of the all-time greats in IndyCar racing. Through the end of July, he was third in all-time career victories with 49. A.J. Foyt leads the list with 67 triumphs and Mario Andretti is second with 52.
Dixon turned 40 on July 22 and is driving as well as ever.
“You’d be hard pressed to argue that Scott Dixon’s age has slowed him,” Ganassi said.
His other two IndyCar Series drivers this season are Swedes Marcus Ericsson and Rosenqvist, who earned his first series victory at Wisconsin’s Road America in mid-July.
“It’s getting a year under his belt and working with Dario Franchitti off the track and understanding the culture and thought process,” Ganassi said about Ronsenqvist. “Alex Zanardi used to have a great line: ‘In IndyCar, you have to know when to go and you need to know when to whoa.’ Felix is getting a good understanding of that right now.”
Ericsson, who made 97 Formula One starts before going IndyCar racing with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in 2019, joined CGR prior to this season.
“He’s right there,” Ganassi said. “His best races are in front of him. We look for good things out of him, too. I don’t think it’s out of the question to see a win out of him. It’s not out of the question at all. He’s got a great team that knows how to win races. The guys running that car are experienced. He’s experienced.
“He is just scratching the surface of what he can do. And, he is also young.”
At 62, Ganassi is older, wiser and perhaps more mellow than in the past when he was a demanding, no-nonsense kind of guy. Dixon once described Ganassi as “an acquired taste,” but the two have had a lasting relationship that began in 2002.
“Chip has mellowed since I first met him in 2000, there is no doubt about that,” Dixon told SPEED SPORT. “But I think he has had a lot of life experiences as well. That changes people’s ways. From my standpoint, life experiences put things in proper perspective.
“He’s seen a lot of things. He has done a hell of a lot of things. He has mellowed, but trust me, he still gets fired up.”
How did Ganassi get started in racing and make it to the top of the sport?
“I just came from Pittsburgh and racing was something that I loved,” Ganassi explained. “I wanted to be a part of it and put a team together that I, personally, would be proud to drive for. As a driver, my standards were high, too. When you put together people like Mike Hull and Tom Anderson before him; and Julian Robertson and Morris Nunn and people that have been there for years and years like Mark Paxton and Gary Rovazzini and Ricky Davis. Scott Dixon for that matter has been there a long time.
“When you put together people like that, I’ve always said racing is the one sport that always rewards tenure in the business. I’m just a lucky guy to get to work with all of these people. They make the team look good.”
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