Ganassi Found Success in Three Series
Lee Spencer, FOX Sports
Turn to Chip Ganassi Racing’s home page and the banner says it all, “2010 BEST SEASON EVER”.
In motorsports, it would be difficult to dispute that claim. When it comes to team owners, who else can boast victories for each of his drivers across three different series and championships in two out of three tours? Who else can lay claim to the American motorsports Triple Crown with victories in the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same year? And what other owner’s results in Grand-Am, NASCAR or IndyCar added up to a combined 19 victories this season?
The answer is no one.
Ganassi’s season started at Daytona with the Rolex 24. Although the No. 1 dream team of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas finished second, the pair went on to win nine of 12 events and wrapped up the Grand-Am title in September.
Coming off of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing’s first NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup berth with Juan Pablo Montoya in in 2009, Ganassi won his first Daytona 500 with Jamie McMurray behind the wheel. McMurray went on to win the Brickyard 400 and two weeks later, Montoya won his second career Cup race, this time at Watkins Glen International.
If there was one disappointment for Ganassi in 2010, it was the fact that neither NASCAR driver qualified for the Chase. However, McMurray was victorious at Charlotte Motor Speedway -- the track where he won his first NASCAR race in just his second start with Ganassi Racing -- this October.
Ganassi’s dominance in IndyCar has been evident over the past three years, but the start of the season was a bit sluggish. Defending series champ Dario Franchitti sat on the pole for the season opener at Sao Paolo, but it would take five races before Scott Dixon put the Target colors in Victory Lane at Kansas Speedway. In the following race, Franchitti won his second Indianapols 500 and Ganassi nearly pulled off the double as Jamie McMurray finished second in the Coca-Cola 600 the same day in Charlotte.
Franchitti took the points lead for the first time in 2010 in the following race at Texas -- but couldn‘t hold on. Dixon and Franchitti posted consecutive wins again at Edmonton and Mid-Ohio. And with Franchitti's win two weeks later at Chicagoland, he solidified his second-place position in the standings for the final three events. Franchitti capitalized on points leader Will Power’s misfortunes in the season finale at Homestead and locked down his third IndyCar championship, the third consecutive title for Chip Ganassi Racing.
“It says a lot about Chip and the effort he puts in and the people he puts in place to do the job,” Franchitti said. “But also the support he has from the sponsors. He is feeling pretty good about things right now.”
Still, Ganassi remains humbled by his accomplishments. He understands all too well how cyclical racing can be. On the season-ending IndyCar teleconference, while reflecting on his fourth title, he was also coming to terms with the near-fatal USAC crash of Steve Hmiel’s son, Shane.
“There are ups and downs in all forms of things you do in life,” Ganassi said. “I'm sitting here right now celebrating a championship with Dario on one hand. On the other hand, I have my team manager in Indianapolis today with his son who is comatose right now from a crash. You know, it's an everyday thing. When you're in this business every day, it's filled with ups and downs.”