TARGET CHIP GANASSI RACING READY FOR GREEN FLAG TO DROP ON THE 2007 INDYCAR SEASON
KICK THE TIRES & LIGHT THE FIRES: Target Chip Ganassi Racing enters its sixth season of IndyCar Series competition in 2007. The season begins under the lights this Saturday night with the XM Satellite Radio Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
TEAM: Target Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar drivers Scott Dixon is back in the No.9 Target Honda-powered Dallara and Dan Wheldon returns at the helm of the No.10 Target Honda-powered Dallara.
VENUE: Homestead-Miami Speedway. 300 miles on the 1.5-mile variably banked asphalt oval in Homestead, Fla. For Round 1 of the 17-race IndyCar Series season.
MIAMI TEAM HISTORY REVISITED- Scott Dixon won the season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2003 on his way to his first IndyCar Series Championship. Dan Wheldon won his first race for the Target team at HMS to launch the 2006 campaign in dramatic fashion as the driver of the no.10 Target Honda overtook Helio Castroneves on the final lap to take his 10th career IndyCar win by just 0.0147 of a second.
A FIRST- Twenty cars running at speeds in excess of 220 mph around Homestead-Miami Speedway are poised to make motorsports history on Saturday night as the IndyCar Series debuts the use of 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol in competition, a worldwide racing first.
TERRIFIC TWOS- Dan Wheldon begins his second season with the Target team at a track where he has won at twice in as many years (2005, 2006). He'll be aiming for number three (3) in a row.
THREE TIMES THE CHARM- All three Chip Ganassi Racing Indy-based teams (IndyCar, Indy Pro, and Rolex Grand Am SportsCar series) will be in action at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday. "The possibility of winning is important for the team," says Team Managing Director Mike Hull, "but I don't want to put the cart before the horse. I think the way that good race teams achieve success is with really great drivers and really great people, which we have on all three teams. It's coincidental that although we're racing all three races on the same day; sometimes coincidence leads to success. We're certainly capable and up to the job. Everybody is excited on the race team. We're looking forward to Saturday."
IN THEIR OWN WORDS- On the start of the 2007 IndyCar Season:
Team Managing Director-Mike Hull
"We feel that this Target team is in a strong position to contend for the IndyCar Series championship. We have shown well at tests at Daytona and Homestead but that's not a lot of testing, and like everyone else we're waiting to see what the first race of the season holds to see where we really stand. You just can't make assumptions based on the past. This is a new season and everyone has a clean slate."
Scott Dixon- Driver No.9 Target Honda Dallara
"You don't really get a really good idea of where you really are until you get that first race under your belt. We saw some of the usual suspects at the front, but preseason testing isn't always a good indication and there are bound to be some surprises in the first two races. We have a lot to build on. Last year was a strong year and we're looking to improve on it. Consistency will be the key and capitalizing on every opportunity. It should be a fun year."
Dan Wheldon- Driver No.10 Target Honda Dallara
"I've been kind of disappointed with my 2006 season because of all the chances we missed. We came so close in so many races including the Indy 500 but just didn't quite get it done in the end. You don't want to tie for a Championship. You want to win it outright. This year, we'll do everything not to let those opportunities get away from us. This season should be a lot better after getting a year under my belt with a new team and engineer. We know each other a lot better now. I'm really eager to get back to Homestead and start the season off. One of the changes that I'm happy about is running the Dallara chassis on road courses this year. I'm more familiar with it and I feel really confident and comfortable in the car. It'll help in developing my road course driving technique and hopefully will translate with success on the track.
NEW ADDITION TO THE CGR FAMILY- Target Chip Ganassi Racing expands its Indy Racing League program this season with the creation of a two-car Indy Pro Series effort set to contest the 2007 season. Young drivers Chris Festa and Pablo Perez will join the Indianapolis-based team's stable of drivers.
Team Managing Director Mike Hull sees the launch of the team's newest program not just as an extension of the Target Team's IndyCar program, but a challenge in its own right.
"The Indy Pro Series allows us all to see the driver talent and future stars of open wheel racing," said Hull. "It also enhances the talent this team has. This team has supported the development of young drivers for a long time and we're always looking for those that are starting to show promise. We believe that Chris Festa and Pablo Perez are those drivers for us. The Indy Pro Series program is just another way to do that."
Georgia native Chris Festa will take the helm of the no. 9 CGR Indy Pro Series spec car. This will be Festa's third season of IPS competition after six top-five finishes for Sam Schmidt's team in 2005 as a rookie, and two more top-five finishes in 2006 with Cheever Racing.
"This is a great opportunity for me as a driver to join a team of this caliber," said the 21-year-old Festa. "Chip Ganassi has a great record of success in motor sports and the team always does everything first class. There will be a lot of testing opportunities for a young driver like myself. I can't wait to get out there and compete for race wins and the championship. I think I can be an asset and help my teammate and team to develop the program faster."
Argentinean driver Pablo Perez will takes his place behind the wheel of the no.10 CGR Indy Pro Series spec car as a rookie.
"I am very happy to join Chip Ganassi Racing as they are a great team, very competitive and proven consistent winners," said the 24-year-old Perez. "I am also very excited about racing in the United States for the first time. Most drivers in Argentina always think about racing in Europe in Formula 1, but in my case, I always wanted to race in the Indianapolis 500. This is the first big step towards that ultimate goal. Racing in the U.S. will be a learning process and very different from anything I am used to, especially the ovals but I think it will be a lot of fun."
"Indy Pro Series testing has gone well for us and it has been positive leading up to the start of the season," says Hull about the team's pre-season preparations. "It has actually been an eye-opening experience to see the professionalism of the series and their officials. As a first-year IPS team, the level of competition for a spec series has exceeded our expectations and we are just scratching the surface of learning about the Indy Pro Series brand. We have a high degree of respect for those teams that are running at the front. It is apparent that the attention to detail is the difference between first and second. We hope to be among them in the coming months.