Team Outlook 2016: No complacency at Ganassi following '15 championship


Chip Ganassi Racing Teams


Max Chilton, No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

Scott Dixon, No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

Tony Kanaan, No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

Charlie Kimball, No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

Chief engineers: Brandon Fry (Chilton), Chris Simmons (Dixon), Todd Malloy (Kanaan), Eric Cowdin (Kimball)

Race strategists: Tom Wurtz (Chilton), Mike Hull (Dixon), Barry Wanser (Kanaan), Scott Harner (Kimball)

Owner: Chip Ganassi

2015 highlights: Chip Ganassi Racing Teams has been the true powerhouse of Indy car racing over the past two decades, collecting 11 season championships since 1996 – including the thrilling come-from-behind title Scott Dixon earned last season by winning the season finale. It marked the fourth championship for Dixon in his 14 season with the team. The remaining three CGRT cars couldn’t match Dixon’s success in 2015. Tony Kanaan was often in the hunt with 10 top-10 finishes, but didn’t find Victory Lane and finished seventh in the standings. Charlie Kimball was strong at the Indianapolis 500, placing third, but wound up 12th in the championship. Sage Karam and Sebastian Saavedra shared the fourth car, with Karam’s young bravado showing in a third-place finish at Iowa and fifth at Auto Club Speedway.

What’s new for 2016: The primary three drivers – Dixon, Kanaan and Kimball – are all back and joined by Max Chilton. A rookie by Verizon IndyCar Series standards, Chilton has a Formula One pedigree and raced most of last season in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, winning at Iowa Speedway.

They said it: "If you stay the same, people use your shoulder blades for traction,” said Mike Hull, the team’s managing director who calls Dixon’s race strategy, when asked about any complacency. “We worked very hard once the season was over to improve a lot of the details of our product. I think having four race cars again is a big help to all of us because it gives us a lot more resource in lots of ways. That’s a bonus to us because that was a tough chore to put together, but we’ve deployed the people in the right directions again. I think adding Max Chilton will add real value to us, to be honest about it. We just need to work hard as a team of people who achieves a lot. Individuals don’t achieve anything and I think that’s what Chip Ganassi really is all about. I think complacency has never existed here based on what we’ve done as a team. If you combine that with what we’ve achieved in Indy car racing over four or five major formula changes, where the rules have changed or we’ve changed or the cars have changed and so on, and yet we’ve still found ways to run at the front. I think complacency is probably a motivator because we don’t want that to happen.”

Reigning champion Scott Dixon, who will drive a throwback car livery this year with the yellow lightning bolt from the late 1990s Target Indy cars: “It's very cool to see the paint scheme. It was actually the very first Target car in '97 I saw when I went to my first Indy car race in Vancouver and then to Laguna Seca that same year. Brings back a lot of great memories, great drivers, too: (Jimmy) Vasser, (Alex) Zanardi, (Bryan) Herta and (Juan Pablo) Montoya. When I came ‘round in 2002, the paint scheme had moved on and changed from that point. For me, obviously this group being together for so long, 27 years with Target, an amazing ride. Hopefully this year with the 100th Running (of the Indianapolis 500), bringing back this iconic paint scheme, we're obviously hoping for big things.”

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