DIXON DIGS DEEP
For the most part, Chip Ganassi Racing had a
good off-season of testing, but it was done on
2012 tires. Our setups created grip on the
older-spec rubber, but other teams were
quicker at figuring out the 2013 tires.
So at the beginning of the season, what
held us back was our chassis setups. It’s not
that we didn’t do a good job, but we needed
to do a better job. At Barber, which was our
highlight in the first half of the year, we had
an option on damper packages, and Scott
Dixon chose to run a very basic one for the
race, and it worked – Scott finished second.
But we were grateful that the Indianapolis
500 got in the way, as it were; through the
Month of May, our R&D guys back at the
shop were getting ready for June. The result
was the progress we saw at Detroit; we were
OK there. Then, at the end of June, after the
oval races, we went to Sebring and that test
gave us our direction for the rest of the year.
Also, significantly, the Sebring test was the
first opportunity for us to try the revised
engine mapping Scott and Dario had asked
for when they visited HPD in April. Those
drivability improvements, together with our
REVOLUTION NO. 9
once we’d turned our program around, and
we quickly became Helio’s prime competition.
Helio was not only consistent; he regularly
scored big points because Penske regularly
put him in positions where he could win. For
example, even after his DNF on the Saturday
at Houston, we still had to expect him to fight
for victory in the second race.
Instead, we arrived at the finale with the
points lead, but still determined to charge.
Scott was a little more measured that night –
but only because we, unlike some others,
were treating it as a 500-mile race. He was
aware the car needed to still be tunable at
the final couple of stops, and there’s
always grit in the air in Fontana which
fills radiators and sidepods, and
tires degrade faster there than on
some other ovals. But Scott
maintained this measured
aggression and it paid off.
So, the perfect culmination
to a year in which Chip Ganassi
Racing proved its strength
in depth. We’re very
proud of 2013.
Team manager Mike Hull writes about Chip Ganassi Racing’s initial struggles and remarkable turnaround
setup modifications, pushed us to a new level.
Being more than 90 points behind a driver
as experienced as Helio Castroneves, driving
for a team like Team Penske with the best guy
in the business, Roger Penske, directing his
races, we knew it was a tough climb for us.
But still we never thought we couldn’t win it,
“Honda’s improvements in
drivability, together with
our setup modifications,
pushed us to a new level”
Indy was a washout for the
team that took Franchitti to
glory in 2012, but the Month
of May did give TCGR time to
make progress back at the
race shop on its chassis
setups for street courses.