ONWARD AND UPWARD
When I put the Target suit on, I’m
like, “Whoa, that’s intimidating.”
This team is a reference point. Before
I joined, if I started a race 15th, if
I was ahead of one Ganassi car, I’d
say, “Wow, those guys are having a
bad weekend!” That’s how people
look at Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
So there’s definitely more pressure
because of the expectation. If we do
good, then whatever – that’s what we
do. When we don’t, then it looks bad.
Chip is awesome. I’ve always
respected him a lot because he’s a
racer. All he wants to do is win
championships and the “500.” So
he hires people who he believes can
get the job done. He could have
been stubborn and not hired me
because of me turning him down in
2008, but he believed in me and
what I could bring to the team.
But what I like most about Chip is
that he’s straightforward: if he wants
to say something, he’ll just say it.
It’s been a tough start to 2014 for the
No. 10 car, but T.K. heads to the Indy 500
as one of the favorites for victory.
Joined Ganassi for 2014 after a
long courtship. Winner of the ’04
IndyCar title and 2013 Indy 500.
THE VETERAN NEWBIE
meet the drivers. It’s Target’s longest
standing marketing program. We aren’t
just sponsors; we’re partners, we’re
embedded within the team.”
Which in turn allows the boss, Chip
Ganassi, to simply focus on making the
most informed racing decisions. If Target,
Scott Dixon and guys like managing
director Mike Hull, or team managers Barry
Wanser and Scott Harner, are proof of
Chip’s desire for continuity once he finds
the right people, so he’s shown that he isn’t
afraid to make changes when necessary
– and sometimes when it appears to the
outside world entirely unnecessary. As ever,
he plays down compliments.
“Well…yeah, I do think we’ve made
some good calls down the years, be it
about drivers or engines or chassis,” he
admits, “but there have also been times
when we’ve taken gambles – educated
gambles, but still gambles – that turned
out right, so that we looked like geniuses!”
His champion-in-residence, Dixon, is no
less intrigued by the contrast between
Chip’s desire for continuity in personnel
and his willingness to change suppliers.
“Maybe that shows Chip’s roots,” he
theorizes. “Obviously he’s a smart racing
businessman, but there are times when I
think he also follows the old racecar driver’s
instinct – always looking for the next big
thing. That’s why, for example, he switched
from BMW to Ford engines in sports cars,
and why he went from Honda to Chevrolet
in IndyCar. That’s why he signed Kyle
Larson to the NASCAR program, why he’s
got Sage Karam on his books.
“The important thing is that he does
his research beforehand. He’s methodical.
When he was considering the switch to
(TOP) Kyle Larson
has started his rookie
NASCAR Sprint Cup
season with a bang, while
Tony Kanaan and Scott
Dixon (ABOVE) each
have a strong chance of
driving a silver TCGR car
(LEFT) into Victory Lane
at the Indianapolis 500.