25 yEars of targEt chip gaNassi raciNg
Rookie Juan Pablo Montoya earns
TCGR’s fourth consecutive title. He
finishes tied on points with future
TCGR star Dario Franchitti, but takes
it with more wins (seven to three).
In addition to CART, TCGR adds the IndyCar Series’ flagship race,
the Indianapolis 500, to its 2000 schedule. Juan Pablo Montoya
starts second and leads 167 of the 200 laps to earn a dominant
victory. He’s the first rookie winner since Graham Hill in 1966.
Alex Zanardi does it again,
delivering TCGR a third
consecutive CART title with his
seven-win season. Three wins
for Jimmy Vasser give the
team a 1-2 in the final points. Montoya’s rookie Indy 500 win (LEFT) came at
the wheel of a G-Force-Oldsmobile (BELOW).
His teammate, Jimmy Vasser, finished seventh.
It was all about being in the right
place at the right time. I was looking
for a job, Chip was looking for a
driver and his organization had
everything in place to perform. I got
the best car in the field without
knowing it beforehand! And having
Morris Nunn as my race engineer
was fantastic, plus I had the best pit
crew. It was the perfect situation.
I also couldn’t have asked for a
better teammate than Jimmy
[Vasser]. He always told me the
truth and helped me so much on
ovals. It takes time to learn oval
racing; you have to use your head
and not your heart, and at first it’s
hard to imagine sustaining those
speeds, but once you have some
confidence, it’s fun.
Morris taught me so much. We
never got tired of talking about the
car and how to make it better.
It was an amazing feeling being part
of such a great team like Ganassi.
Odd stat: in his second title year, 1998,
AZ scored zero poles, yet led more laps
than anyone else and won seven races!
Won the 1997 and ’ 98 CART Indy
car titles, and scored 15 wins
across his three seasons at TCGR.
it being the first Indy car race for Reynard.
We were sorry to lose Michael at the end of
the year; it left us having to rebuild.”
But he did so. Jimmy Vasser and Bryan
Herta were the drivers in 1995, but
already Ganassi was looking further down
the road regarding equipment; at season’s
end, he swapped Ford engines for Hondas,
and Goodyear tires for Firestone. This
far-sightedness has been a recurring theme
in Target Chip Ganassi Racing history.
“I wouldn’t particularly call it far-sighted,”
says Chip of his moves to put together the
combination that dominated the late ’90s
CART scene. “We’d switched from Lola to
Reynard because I felt we’d never get the
latest, greatest parts from Lola when Carl
Haas – a major rival on track – was Lola’s
U.S. importer. That was just logic.
“The Firestone deal was gut instinct –
with its rich heritage in Indy car racing,
it would only be a matter of time before it
was at least a match for Goodyear. And
Honda…well, look at its success in
Formula 1 with Williams and then McLaren.
Honda doesn’t enter any series just to be
part of the scenery. So again, that move
just seemed a logical one.”
And hiring Alex Zanardi to partner
Vasser? “That was on the recommendation
of Malcolm Oastler, Reynard designer at
the time,” says Chip. “He was telling me
about the Formula 3000 race at Pau [in
1991] when there was only 20 minutes of
practice before they went straight into
qualifying, and this Zanardi guy who’d
never seen the place before went and got
pole. I thought, ‘That’s my kind of guy!’”
By logic, inspiration and advice, Target
Chip Ganassi Racing hit the big time
with four straight championships: Vasser-
(ABOVE) Montoya and
TCGR dominated the
2000 Indy 500,
with the IndyCar
Series. (LEFT) Zanardi
sprays the bubbly at
a future Ganassi star,