IRL: Ganassi to run Renna in '04

IRL: Ganassi to run Renna in '04

Chip Ganassi has long been known as a good judge of talent, having utilized the services of drivers like Jimmy Vasser, Alex Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya and Scott Dixon, to name just a few. Tony Renna. Photo by indyracing.com/Ron ...

Chip Ganassi has long been known as a good judge of talent, having utilized the services of drivers like Jimmy Vasser, Alex Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya and Scott Dixon, to name just a few.

Tony Renna.
Photo by indyracing.com/Ron McQueeney.
The Pittsburgh, PA native strengthened Team Target's offense for the 2004 IndyCar Series season by announcing the hiring today of 26-year-old Deland, FL driver Tony Renna to partner Scott Dixon next year. Renna will drive a Panoz G Force/Toyota in the 16 announced races, including the 88th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

Renna and Dixon have been partners before, working with PacWest Racing in the Indy Lights Series in 2000. During that season, Dixon took the title and Renna finished fifth.

"This is a great opportunity for me," Renna declared. "Team Target is a first-class organization dedicated to one thing: winning. When the opportunity came up, it was hard to keep the smile off my face. I wish the season was starting now, not ending."

Under contract with Kelley Racing since May 2002, Renna has competed in seven IndyCar Series races, scoring five top-10 finishes, including his career-best fourth place outing at Michigan International Speedway in July of 2002 while substituting for Al Unser Jr.

In a third Kelley car at Indy this year, Renna started eighth and finished seventh, erasing his rookie stripes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Ganassi is "thrilled to have Tony on board here. He's a talented driver who has the ability to win races. He will make a great addition to our team. Scott and Tony have been teammates before, and I think they will be a great combination for us. I feel [Renna] has the talent to win races and contend for a championship," Ganassi stated.

Dixon welcomed Renna to Team Target: "Tony and I have always had a good relationship, and it is great to have him as a teammate again. We've spoken quite a bit this year and if I had to choose a teammate, Tony would probably be the guy I'd choose," the Kiwi remarked. "We get on very well and I'm really looking forward to next season" working with him.

Scott Dixon.
Photo by indyracing.com/Ron McQueeney.

Tony Renna started racing in mini-sprints at age 6, also competing in karts, micro-sprints and quarter midgets. He earned 252 wins and two National Quarter Midget championships before moving on to cars.

Beginning with Skip Barber's Formula Ford series, Renna moved to the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 1994, running in three events. He won the Skip Barber "Big Scholarship" a year later and gained an entry for the 1996 Barber Dodge Pro Series, where he copped Rookie of the Year honors with three podium finishes and two pole positions.

After another year in Barber Dodge, Renna moved to the Indy Lights series in 1998, where he finished eighth in the standings. He won that year's Indy Lights race at Michigan from pole position.

After his two-year stint with PacWest Racing Group, Renna found it difficult to move into the upper echelon of open wheel motorsports and spent time running two events of the Speedvision Challenge GT in 2001. He joined Kelley racing in May of 2002 as the designated test driver.

"I have to thank Chip, Target and the whole organization for giving me the chance to drive here next season. Teaming up with Scott again is going to be a lot of fun."

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Series INDYCAR