Scott Dixon and the No. 9 Target Team
One for the History Books: When the green flag drops at St. Petersburg, Scott Dixon, the reigning IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 Champion and Dario Franchitti, the 2007 IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 Champion will make racing history. Chip Ganassi Racing will be the first organization in major auto racing history to team drivers who have won both its sanctioning body's Driver Championship (IndyCar Series) and its marquee event (Indianapolis 500) the previous two seasons. Dating back to the first American Automobile Association-sanctioned Indianapolis 500 in 1911, the FIA-sanctioned Monaco Grand Prix in 1950 and the NASCAR-sanctioned Daytona 500 in 1959, no team has ever paired the previous two winners of the sport's Driver Championship, and it's respective Crown Jewel event, together on the same team.
Rewind: Target Chip Ganassi Racing put together a dominating 2008 season, winning eight of 17 races with drivers Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon. Dixon won six times to earn the team's second series championship (and sixth open wheel title overall). Target drivers led 1,063 of 2,860 laps and recorded 24 top-five finishes last season. The team also won six poles.
Defending Champ: Reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon will be among the leading candidates to win the 2009 IndyCar title. If he can do so, he would be only the second driver to win consecutive championships. Dixon won a record-tying six races in 2008. He will attempt to maintain the dominance he has held over the IndyCar Series field since the middle of 2007.
What it Takes to Repeat: "The only way that you can try and do better than last year is to try and repeat. To try and repeat 2008 is going to be very tough. It was definitely a stellar season for myself and the team. I think we have a fantastic lineup if you just look at it as we've got the last two (Indianapolis) 500 champions, last two series champions. We definitely are going to have the target on our backs. It's going to be a hard season, with a lot of the new people as such from last year, have had a lot of time in the cars now, and the teams have been able to prepare the cars maybe a little bit better, the competition level is going to be a lot tougher."
Hot Streak: Dixon and the No. 9 team have increased their win total by two each of the past three seasons, winning six times last year. The New Zealander has 10 wins and 22 podium finishes in his last 34 races over two seasons.
Just in time for St. Pete: Chip Ganassi Racing has a new website that launched prior to this weekend's race. Get everything you need to know about Dixon, Franchitti, Target and more at www.chipganassiracing.com.
Dario Franchitti and the No. 10 AIR WICK® Team
AIR WICK® to Sponsor No. 10 Car of Dario Franchitti at Grand Prix of St. Petersburg: Target Chip Ganassi Racing announced today that AIR WICK® will serve as the primary sponsor of its No.10 Honda Dallara for 2007 Indianapolis 500 winner and IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti at the IndyCar Series season opener.
Dario by the Numbers: After transitioning to the team's NASCAR program in 2008, Franchitti returns to open wheel racing in 2009. Franchitti posted four wins, four pole positions in 2007 en route to his first IndyCar Series championship. 2009 will be his first IndyCar season with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. He has over 180 starts under his belt between the CART and IndyCar Series resulting in 18 wins, 17 poles, 95 top-10 finishes (1997-2007). He is the winningest driver in U.S. open-wheel history from Great Britain.
Franchitti Dressed to Kilt: Dressed To Kilt -- the seventh annual exercise in Scottish pride that involves men in skirts and plaid-clad women -- returned to Manhattan's M2 Lounge on Monday, raising money to benefit the Wounded Warriors program and the Paralyzed Veterans of America through a nonprofit group called Friends of Scotland. The event was hosted by Sir Sean Connery and Lady Connery and celebrated "Homecoming Scotland 2009" -- a year-long celebration of all things Scottish. Among the attendees were Sir Sean Connery, "American Idol's" Kellie Pickler, Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dario Franchitti, former MLB player Bernie Williams, actor Mike Myers and actress Andie MacDowell.
Dario Visits ESPN HQ: Dario visited the ESPN campus in Bristol, Conn., Tuesday and appeared on various ESPN platforms throughout the week. Franchitti was on First Take on ESPN2, a live chat on ESPN.com and live segments on ESPNEWS and ESPN2's NASCAR Now.
Dario Visits Jay Leno's 'Big Dog' Garage: Last week the jovial host of "The Tonight Show" played host to 2007 IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti, who was visiting Southern California to promote the 35th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. With about 17,000 square feet of display and restoration space, Leno's collection spans 100 years of automotive history.
Thoughts on St. Petersburg: "Driving the AIR WICK car to start the IndyCar Series season couldn't be more fitting for me...their tagline 'It's good to be home' pretty much sums up my thoughts on this race to start the year after racing in NASCAR in 2008. I've said many times that part of the IndyCar Series' allure is in the diversity of its tracks, and I'm a huge fan of the street circuits. What a great way to continue my Indy car career with AIR WICK® on board on the streets of St. Petersburg. "I've also put in a special request for the AIR WICK® FRESHMATIC® Ultra for our team transporters for the rest of the season. Believe me, with over 30 guys working in and out of these trucks every weekend, the automatic spray's time-released fragrance will be a much welcomed addition for everyone."