Homestead: Chip Ganassi Racing preview

Pre-Split Recap: The last time TCGR ran at Homestead in a unified series was in 1995 with drivers Jimmy Vasser and Bryan Herta. Both drivers finished in the top 10, but it was Vasser who was on the verge of a breakout season that saw him win the...

Pre-Split Recap: The last time TCGR ran at Homestead in a unified series was in 1995 with drivers Jimmy Vasser and Bryan Herta. Both drivers finished in the top 10, but it was Vasser who was on the verge of a breakout season that saw him win the 1996 race at Homestead en route to the first of five open wheel championships for TCGR.

Where was Chip Driving Before the Split?: Team Owner Chip Ganassi drove all six seasons of his open wheel career in a unified series, highlighted by three podiums and Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year honors in 1983.

Safety First: The team spent a lot of time updating the cars' paneling during the off-season. Both cars have been updated with 7mm. thick Zylon anti-intrusion panels. Despite the lengthy process of attaching the panels, the safety of the chassis and driver protection are significantly increased.

Bird's Eye view: An additional upgrade in media technology is the High Definition in-car cameras that were added in preparation for the 2008 season opener. The cameras which mount on the roll hoop and pan 360-degrees are believed to be the only ones used in motorsports to-date.

Scott Dixon and the No. 9 Target Honda Team (IRL)

A moment with TCGR Managing Director Mike Hull: What is the biggest change you have seen for TCGR in the past 12 years: "Most notably, we broadened our ability to go racing. Our team's structure has changed, whereas we were a two-driver team that was not completely self-sufficient, we are now able to accommodate our own capabilities (especially in manufacturing and sponsor support). Our team mentality has also changed -- we now see change as a way of life and are able to use this in our advantage. It is important to note that before 1996, we were building a foundation to win, and in 1996 we won and were able to grow and looked at ourselves to grow -- and we truly were not afraid of the future."

Where were you when you heard the news of the unification: "I can not recall where I was exactly when I heard the news. Certainly, I knew talks were ongoing and I knew it was coming, yet you still hold your breath until its official."

Dan Wheldon and the No. 10 Target Honda Team (IRL)

Historic Four-Peat: Wheldon has the opportunity to not only rewrite the IndyCar record books, but also etch his name in Homestead-Miami Speedway's history with a fourth consecutive win this weekend. Since open wheel racing's inaugural start in 1995 at the speedway, Wheldon is the only driver to win three consecutive races. NASCAR's Greg Biffle was also a three-peat winner at the track (2004, 2005, 2006), but did not master the feat of winning four times.

Domestic Duties: One of the highlight activities after a mid-March wedding and honeymoon for Wheldon and Susie Behm is the process of opening wedding gifts and writing thank you notes. He predicts they will spend one month getting caught up on the task -- certainly much longer than any pit stop he'll have this weekend at HMS. Because they got married so close to the first race, Wheldon says "Susie will shoulder a little more of the responsibility, as she knows I am very focused on the season that is about the start."

TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas and the No. 01 TELMEX Lexus Team (Grand-Am)

Happy Birthday, Scott: Scott Pruett celebrated his 48th birthday on Monday, March 24 after spending a week on Spring Break with his family in Santa Barbara, California. Pruett started racing go-karts at age 8, this season marks his 40th year in motorsports.

Lights, Camera, Action: Pruett filmed a new commercial for Lexus on Monday and Tuesday (March 24&25) in California that features him taking Jim Sloyan, the voice of Lexus, on a test drive on a closed-course While in the Lexus IS 250, IS 350, and IS F vehicles, Sloyan faces difficulties describing the features of the cars as Pruett maneuvers them into hard breaking, quick acceleration, sharp turns and high G-force situations.

Memo's presidential visit: The office of Mexico's President, Felipe Calderon has confirmed that a visit with Memo Rojas is on the president's agenda to celebrate Rojas' Rolex 24 At Daytona win. The visit could occur anytime in the next two months, leaving Rojas with a one or two-day advance notice. Rojas' fingers are crossed that his racing schedule matches with the president's availability.

A much needed facelift: The No.01 TELMEX Riley will not only look different at first glance from new body work, but the chassis itself is new and will race for the first time on Saturday. CGRFS Team Manager Time Keene echoes the excitement of the team, "we are looking forward to starting on a clean slate. We've learned a lot in the past three years (with the old body work and chassis) and have worked closely with Riley to develop a more efficient car, even changes like a more effective door handle are advances that we are excited to see this weekend." Four weeks were spent by the CGRFS team to build the new car from the bottom-up after retiring the history-making 2008 Rolex 24 At Daytona car at the team's Indianapolis shop.

QUOTES

Topic: You have a Magic 8-Ball with three answers ("So it Shall Be", "Try Again Later" and "Prospects Look Good") to give you some idea of what to expect for this weekend in Homestead. Which answer would be the most appropriate for you in the first race in a unified open wheel series?

Scott Dixon: "It would have to be, 'so it shall be!' Somebody has to bloody beat Wheldon and it might as well be me!"

Dan Wheldon: "No doubt -- the 'prospects look good.' We should be right where we need to be to have a winning car."

Topic: Same question regarding expectations heading to Homestead, but you two already have the advantage of winning Round 1 of the Rolex Series after the team's third-straight Rolex 24 At Daytona win in January.

Scott Pruett: "I definitely feel that the prospects look good. There's no doubt we feel confident after the Rolex 24 win, but there's also a long season ahead of us to win the championship. A new chassis and bodywork should prove to be strong additions to the car, and we'll really need every bit of horsepower to power us to victory lane. I'm ready to make this weekend successful."

Memo Rojas: "Most definitely, the prospects look good. There's a lot of momentum going into this weekend's race -- I've been training hard (especially doing boxing) and have done a lot of media events in Mexico including two TELMEX television commercials and sponsor events. I'm ready to get back in the car!"

-credit: cgr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am , IndyCar
Drivers Greg Biffle , Jimmy Vasser , Scott Dixon , Bryan Herta , Scott Pruett , Dan Wheldon , Memo Rojas , Chip Ganassi , Mike Hull , Felix Sabates
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing