Target Chip Ganassi Racing on season opener at St. Pete

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Target Chip Ganassi Racing St. Petersburg advance notes

Nice Place to Start: For the fifth time in six years, Target Chip Ganassi Racing (TCGR) starts the Verizon IndyCar Series season off at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as defending series Champions. The team has held the title a total of 10 times (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013).

The Silver Lining: In celebration of their 25th year together, Target and Chip Ganassi Racing will be entering three specially-liveried cars into races on May 25. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Kyle Larson will drive a silver No. 42 Chevrolet in the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, matching Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan’s No. 9 and 10 cars which will be entered the Indianapolis 500 earlier in the day. The silver cars were revealed at a special celebration thrown by Target in Las Vegas on March 7th where all three drivers were in attendance.

Tony Kanaan, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Tony Kanaan, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Chris Owens

Title Talk: Should reigning Verizon IndyCar Series Champion Scott Dixon take home the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series title, he would become the fifth driver to win four Indy car titles (AJ Foyt, Mario Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais, Dario Franchitti). Dixon won the title in 2003, 2008 and again in 2013.

Oh!-pening Day: Since 2006, TCGR has won four of the last eight Verizon IndyCar Series openers (Homestead: 2006, 2007, 2008; St. Pete: 2011).

Dario Returns: Four-time Verizon IndyCar Series Champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 Winner Dario Franchitti returns to Team Target in 2014 as a driving advisor for Chip Ganassi Racing Teams. Franchitti will aid the team as it adapts to recent lineup changes and additions, and was on site with the team at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Barber Motorsports Park Open Test earlier this month. He will continue to work closely with the teams’ Verizon IndyCar Series drivers throughout the duration of the season.

100+ Wins and Counting…: The Target Racing Program, which began with Target and Chip Ganassi Racing in 1990, will be contending for their 104th win as the season starts this weekend. The first win for the program came in 1994 with Michael’s Andretti’s Indy car victory at Surfers Paradise, Australia, when the team was a two-car, Indy car program. 102 wins later, the program’s umbrella not only includes involvement in the Verizon IndyCar Series, but in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) and the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The partnership between Target and Chip Ganassi Racing is one of the longest consecutive team partnerships in motor racing history.

Topping the Charts: Dixon and Kanaan rank first and fifth, respectively, in the number of victories among active full-time drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Dixon is ranked seventh on the all-time wins list with 33 victories. Reigning Indianapolis 500 Winner Kanaan has 16 victories.

Finding New Roads: All four Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (CGRT) Indy cars will utilize the Chevrolet 2.2-liter twin turbocharged V6 engine for 2014 season. The engine produces well over 600 horsepower and close to 300 lb. ft. of torque.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR ST. PETERSBURG

Scott Dixon and No. 9 Target Team

The Ice Man Returns: The three-time Verizon IndyCar Series Champion (2003, 2008, 2013) and 2008 Indianapolis 500 Winner returns in 2014 for his first season alongside 2004 Series Champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 Winner Kanaan. Dixon, the active wins leader, is in seventh place on the all-time list (1909-Present) with 33 victories, ranking only behind A.J. Foyt, the Andretti’s (Mario and Michael) and Unser’s (Al, Bobby and Al Jr.). He also enters his 13th year with Team Target ranked 13th all-time poles list with 22.

Year in Review: Last season, Dixon led at least one lap in eight out of the 19 races on the calendar. He finished the 2013 season completing 2,240 of 2,433 laps and scored four wins on his way to a first-place finish in the overall standings.

Go with What you Know: 2014 marks Dixon’s 13th year with Team Target – the longest tenure for a driver in team history (1990-Present).

Moving Forward: With his next victory, Dixon would tie Al Unser Jr. for sixth on the all-time wins list. Dixon won his 33rd race at Houston's Reliant Park in October 2013. A victory in 2014 will extend Dixon’s streak of consecutive seasons with a win to 10; while qualifying in the top spot would mark eight consecutive seasons with a pole. Should he win the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship, he would join A.J. Foyt, Dario Franchitti, Sebastien Bourdais and Mario Andretti as the only drivers to win four Indy car titles in his career.

Kiwi Honors: Dixon was named New Zealand Sportsman of the Year during the 51st Halberg Awards program earlier this year in Auckland. The Halberg Awards recognize the country's top sporting achievements. Dixon also was named Sportsman of the Year following his second Verizon IndyCar Series championship season, which included a victory in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, in 2008. He credited New Zealand's "never give up attitude" for pushing him to the top of the Verizon IndyCar Series standings after 19 races. "It's always a huge honor and a real privilege to represent New Zealand," he said. "I hope to be (at the awards program) next year."

Tony Kanaan and No. 10 Target Team

TK Joins The Team: 2004 Verizon IndyCar Series Champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 Winner Kanaan joins TCGR in 2014 for his first season alongside three-time Champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 Winner Dixon. Kanaan has 16 career wins and 14 poles entering the 2014 season, and will seek to add to his record for consecutive Indy car starts, which is at 215. Only three other active drivers (Dixon, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay) possess a streak of more than 100 consecutive starts. Competing in every race will push his career starts to 295 – which would be good enough for ninth on the all-time list. Kanaan is the active leader in top-five finishes with 112.

Peculiar Pairing: The pairing of Dixon and Kanaan marks the first time the reigning Indianapolis 500 Winner and the reigning Verizon IndyCar Series Champion will be teammates since 2002, when Team Penske had 2001 Indianapolis 500 Winner Helio Castroneves and 2001 CART Champion Gil de Ferran. The pairing of the two titleholders has only happened five times in Indy car history (1972 – Al Unser, 1971 Indianapolis 500 Winner and Joe Leonard, 1971 USAC Champion for Vel’s Parnelli Racing; 1986 – Danny Sullivan, 1985 Indianapolis 500 Winner and Al Unser, 1985 CART Champion for Team Penske; and in 1989 – Rick Mears, 1988 Indianapolis 500 Winner and Danny Sullivan, 1988 CART Champion for Team Penske.

That’s the Ticket: Defending Indianapolis 500 Winner Kanaan unveiled the artwork for the 2014 Indianapolis 500 ticket recently during a 500 Festival Corporate Members event in Indianapolis. Every 2014 Indianapolis 500 reserved seat ticket will show a smiling Kanaan hugging the Borg-Warner Trophy after his victory last May, as well as the 2014 Indianapolis 500 event logo.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing

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Tags scott dixon, target chip ganassi racing, tony kanaan