WHELDON TO DEFEND INDY 500 TITLE WITH TARGET CHIP GANASSI RACING
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Nov. 28, 2005 -- Dan Wheldon will defend his 2005 Indianapolis 500 title from a different address with an Indy-winning pedigree -- Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Wheldon will join Scott Dixon on the perennial IRL IndyCar® Series powerhouse team in 2006, team owner Chip Ganassi announced Nov. 28. Wheldon comes to the team, which won the 2000 Indianapolis 500 with Juan Pablo Montoya, from Andretti Green Racing.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing will come to the 90th Indianapolis 500 next May with two IndyCar Series champions in its lineup, as Wheldon won the title in 2005 and Dixon in 2003.
"Throughout my career, I've always looked favorably at Chip's team and the things they've been able to accomplish in motor racing," Wheldon said. "I'm obviously very excited about joining Target Chip Ganassi Racing and having the opportunity to team up with another IndyCar Series champion in Scott Dixon."
The 90th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 28, 2006. Opening Day is Sunday, May 7.
Both Wheldon and Dixon will compete in Target-sponsored Dallara/Honda/Firestone cars in 2006, a change from the Panoz/Toyota/Firestone package the team has used in recent seasons. Dixon will stay in the No. 9 car, while Wheldon will drive the No. 10 machine.
Wheldon prevailed in a thrilling late-race duel with rookie sensation Danica Patrick to win the 89th Indianapolis 500 last May. It was one of his series-record six victories in 2005.
"For me, it's a new chapter," Wheldon said. "I'm not coming here to run second. I want to win more races, more championships and more Indy 500s. This team has a great history; it wins the big races. And that's what I love to do.
"I'd like to win the Indy 500 and another championship in the same year with a different team. Now that would be asking a lot."
Wheldon has made three career starts at Indianapolis, all with Andretti Green Racing. He finished 19th after starting fifth in 2003, finished third after starting second in 2004 and won the Borg-Warner Trophy from the 16th starting position in 2005. Wheldon, 27, from Emberton, England, became the first Englishman to win the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" since Graham Hill in 1966.
"Obviously, we're happy to have Dan Wheldon joining Target Chip Ganassi Racing for the foreseeable future," Ganassi said. "We couldn't be happier in what Dan brings to the team, not only in terms of his ability but his tendencies of running 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."
The Ganassi team's move to a Dallara chassis and Honda engine puts it in the package that Wheldon used to win the Indianapolis 500 in 2005. Dallara chassis have won at Indianapolis five of the last eight years, with Honda-powered cars winning the last two years.
Indy 500 tickets on sale: Tickets are on sale for the 2006 Indianapolis 500, the historic 90th running of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
All fans can order tickets online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or at the ticket office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.
Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday, while online orders can be made at any time.
Ticket prices start at just $20.