Target Team Unveils Exciting New Plans For 2006
Indianapolis, IN, November 28, 2005-- Target Chip Ganassi Racing unveiled a long list of exciting changes to their IndyCar program today, introducing a new driver and a new engine and chassis manufacturer package for the 2006 IndyCar Series season.
Team owner Chip Ganassi formally announced on Monday that the team will return to IndyCar Series competition in 2006 with two Indy Racing League Champions. The 2003 IndyCar title winner Scott Dixon, who has five wins and five pole positions on his resume, will be back at the helm of the No.9 Target car for a fourth season. In addition, the Target team will entrust the No.10 Target car to newly-crowned Series Champion Dan Wheldon, a four-year veteran in the Indy Racing League with nine wins and two pole positions, a proven race winner.... and then some.
"Obviously, we're happy to have Dan Wheldon joining Target Chip Ganassi Racing for the foreseeable future," said team owner Ganassi. "We couldn't be happier with what Dan brings to the team, not only in terms of his ability, but his tendency to run at the front of a very difficult and competitive series. He is a proven champion, and his teaming up with another champion in Scott Dixon is a perfect fit for our IndyCar driver lineup. We think the addition of Dan ensures Target Chip Ganassi Racing's position as a formidable competitor in the IndyCar Series moving forward."
In just three full IndyCar Series seasons, the young British driver went from being an unproven rookie to an Indianapolis 500 winner and Series Champion. Wheldon captured the 2005 IRL Driver's Championship with a record-setting six wins in 17 races, and won the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500 in only his third attempt. This past season he posted 12 top-five finishes and 15 top-10 finishes, and clinched the 2005 IRL Driver's Championship with one practice lap at Watkins Glen.
"Throughout my career, I've always looked favorably on Chip's team and the things they've been able to accomplish in motor racing," said Wheldon. "I'm obviously very excited about joining Target Chip Ganassi Racing, and having the opportunity to team up with another IndyCar Champion in Scott Dixon. Looking forward to 2006, a few of my goals include sustaining the momentum I have coming off last season, and returning the Target team to where they're accustomed to running-- up front."
Wheldon's ascension in the IRL over the past three seasons has been nothing less than astounding, as he recorded nine wins in a 29-race stretch-- the best streak in the history of the league. In fact, those nine wins have come in only 49 career starts, and he is already tied for second all-time in career IRL wins with Scott Sharp. He also ranks in the IRL's top-10 for most top-five finishes (5th), races led (5th), most top-10 finishes (6th), laps led (6th) and career earnings (9th).
Target Chip Ganassi Racing is also excited to announce that they have rekindled a relationship that resulted in 30 wins and 24 poles, a record four consecutive Championship titles for the team and three manufacturer titles from 1996 to 1999 in the Champ Car World Series. Honda Performance Development will once again join forces with the Target Team by supplying Honda Indy V-8 engines for the 2006 Indy Series season and beyond.
"We're delighted to renew our association with the Ganassi organization," said Robert Clarke, president of Honda Performance Development. "We had a very successful relationship with the Target Team in CART, and look forward to renewing our partnership in the IndyCar Series. Honda is pledged to the long-term success and growth of the Indy Racing League. Our renewed partnership with Target Chip Ganassi Racing will help us achieve these goals."
In their continuing quest for excellence, the Target Team will also entrust Dallara with the construction of their chassis for the upcoming season. Dallara Automobili has designed and built chassis for teams in the IRL since 1997-- winning constructors championships from 1998-2005 in addition to the prestigious Indianapolis 500 in 1998-99, 2001-2002, 2004-2005.
"The Target team and Chip Ganassi have always tried to give us the tools, effort and support to get our jobs as drivers done on the track, and with all the announcements today, it shows everyone how committed we are to winning," said Scott Dixon. "Dan Wheldon is a good addition to the team and I look forward to working with him. His knowledge of both the Honda engine and Dallara chassis package will also be a good contribution. There certainly is a lot to look forward to this season."
Target Team Managing Director Mike Hull is anticipating a very competitive season and is seeking a strong balance and increased consistency for the team with all of the changes.
"We truly believe that the combination of these two talented championship drivers, along with the addition of Honda and Dallara gives us a very competitive package for 2006 and beyond," said Hull. "We're always looking to the future with the goal of improving the performance of the team and winning the BIG races. What Wheldon and the Andretti Green Team have done together is remarkable. The experience of winning the Indianapolis 500 and the Series Championships is something both he and the Target team share, and we look forward to continuing that success together once again."
The Target duo of Dixon and Wheldon will start the 2006 IndyCar Series season in Homestead- Miami, Fla., March 26th on ABC Sports.