Target Chip Ganassi Racing team owner Chip Ganassi has always been known for his volatile ways. Mostly, the man whose team won four straight CART championships is impatient for results in the best of times. No doubt Ganassi is extremely ...
Target Chip Ganassi Racing team owner Chip Ganassi has always been known for his volatile ways. Mostly, the man whose team won four straight CART championships is impatient for results in the best of times.
No doubt Ganassi is extremely frustrated with the performance of his Indy Racing League IndyCar Series team this year; there have been no wins and few toe-dips into the top 10 at the first ten races of the 17-event campaign.
After last weekend's race in Milwaukee, Darren Manning was the highest placed driver in the three-car team, holding 13th place points (186), while 2003 IRL champ Scott Dixon occupies 15th (172) and rookie Ryan Briscoe has finished only four races and owns the 17th best record (159 points) in the series.
Australian Briscoe has crashed out of four events and did not start the Milwaukee after crunching his car in pre-qualifying practice. In all, Ganassi's trio has posted at least a dozen accidents in competition to this point.
Today, Ganassi took action to remedy the problem. He decided not to exercise his contract option with 29-year-old Manning. The likable Briton and the man from Pittsburgh thought it best to part ways, effectively immediately.
"Darren did a great job for us and we were very happy to have had him as part of our team," Ganassi reflected. "The team does regret that we weren't able to bring him to Victory Circle in our time together, but we certainly wish him the best of luck in his racing career."
Manning came to Team Target from the Champ Car World Series, where he spent 2003 driving with Derrick Walker's team and took ninth in the championship. Prior to that he made his CART debut on home turf on the 1.5-mile Rockingham Speedway oval in Corby, England, securing a ninth place finish with Dale Coyne Racing.
In his 24 IndyCar starts for Ganassi, Manning produced five top-five finishes and 12 top-10 results, including career-best fourth-place finishes in Japan, at Nashville and on the short Pikes Peak oval.
At this past weekend's race on the Milwaukee Mile, Manning was unable to qualify with a loose car that he simply could not get under control, preferring to call on the pits rather than risk disaster attempting to put up a fast lap. During the race the Yorkshire native called on the pits several times trying to get the car to handle properly but finally gave up the effort after completing 34 laps.
Manning had used the three practice lead-up to qualifying testing three different wing setups for his Panoz/Toyota/Firestone machine. His skills as a test driver are well known and he did, for a couple of years serve that purpose for the BAR Honda Formula One team.
Manning has not yet commented on his dismissal.