CHIP GANASSI RACING ADDS INDY PRO SERIES PROGRAM WITH TWO ENTRIES FOR 2007 INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (December 19, 2006)--Chip Ganassi Racing announced today the expansion of its Indy Racing League program with the creation of a two-car Indy Pro ...
CHIP GANASSI RACING ADDS INDY PRO SERIES PROGRAM WITH TWO ENTRIES FOR 2007
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (December 19, 2006)--Chip Ganassi Racing announced today the expansion of its Indy Racing League program with the creation of a two-car Indy Pro Series effort set to contest the 2007 season. Young drivers Chris Festa and Pablo Perez will join the Indianapolis-based team's stable of drivers which includes 2003 IndyCar Series Champion Scott Dixon as well as 2005 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series Champion Dan Wheldon.
"I am excited about this," said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. "Despite the fact that we are involved in a number of racing leagues, I am a big proponent of open wheel racing in the U.S. I feel it is a great form of racing and anything that we can do as an organization to help cultivate young talent in the cars and also in the garage is a benefit to us as a team and the open wheel racing industry."
While Target Chip Ganassi Racing will enter its sixth season of IndyCar Series competition in 2007, this will be the team's first time fielding a team in the Indy Racing League's development series. Team Managing Director Mike Hull sees the launch of the team's newest program not just as an extension of the Target Team's IndyCar program, but a challenge in its own right.
"The Indy Pro Series allows us all to see the driver talent and future stars of open wheel racing," said Hull. "It also enhances the talent this team has. This team has supported the development of young drivers for a long time and we're always looking for those that are starting to show promise. We believe that Chris Festa and Pablo Perez are those drivers for us. The Indy Pro Series program is just another way to do that."
"We're doing this in support of the future of open wheel racing and the Indy Racing League," added Hull. "This program will be managed in house, as it should be done. The Indy Pro Series isn't just an extension of our IndyCar Series program, it's a good place to race and see upcoming talent."
Also collaborating with the team's new Indy Pro Series program and bringing driver Pablo Perez into the mix will be John Della Penna. The former open wheel driver and team owner will be on hand to help facilitate the development of fellow Argentinean Perez as he takes his place behind the wheel of the no.10 CGR Indy Pro Series spec car as a rookie.
"I am very much looking forward to working with the Ganassi organization to make this program a success," said Della Penna who will act as manager, driver coach and spotter to his young protege. "I'm pleased to be charged with helping Pablo understand American racing and work with the team in developing his driver abilities. Chip and Mike are all about winning, so I know we are in good hands and we will have the best resources available."
"I am very happy to join Chip Ganassi Racing as they are a great team, very competitive and proven consistent winners," said the 24-year-old Perez. "I am also very excited about racing in the United States for the first time. Most drivers in Argentina always think about racing in Europe in Formula 1, but in my case, I always wanted to race in the Indianapolis 500. This is the first big step towards that ultimate goal. Racing in the U.S. will be a learning process and very different from anything I am used to, especially the ovals but I think it will be a lot of fun."
Georgia native Chris Festa will take the helm of the no. 9 CGR Indy Pro Series spec car. This will be Festa's third season of IPS competition after six top-five finishes for Sam Schmidt's team in 2005 as a rookie, and two more top-five finishes in 2006 with Cheever Racing.
"This is a great opportunity for me as a driver to join a team of this caliber," said the 21-year-old Festa. "Chip Ganassi has a great record of success in motor sports and the team always does everything first class. There will be a lot of testing opportunities for a young driver like myself. I can't wait to get out there and compete for race wins and the championship. I think I can be an asset and help my teammate and team to develop the program faster."
The 16-race schedule will feature seven races on ovals, two street circuits, and seven road course races. The Indy Pro Series will also expand to four doubleheader weekends including races on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in support of the United States Grand Prix in June.
Teams will compete for $3 million in prize money in cars that generate 420 horsepower and speeds in excess of 190 mph. The races are telecast to more than 88 million homes in the United States on ESPN2. Broadcast of the races will also be available through live webcasts on www.indycar.com.
The CGR team will take to the track with drivers Festa and Perez for the 2007 Indy Pro Series season opener on March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
About Chip Ganassi Racing
Following a strong career as a driver, Chip Ganassi created his own one-car IndyCar team in 1990 and established a partnership with a new sponsor, Target Stores. Today, his teams include two IRL IndyCars, three cars in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, a Daytona Prototype in the world of Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series racing and two entries in the NASCAR Busch Series. Ganassi's IndyCar teams have amassed five Championships and 50 wins; his NASCAR teams have nine wins and a Rookie-of-the-Year title; and the Grand American team has won two of the last three Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Championships and the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Chip Ganassi Racing operates out of state-of-the-art race shop facilities in Indianapolis, IN, and Concord, NC, with a corporate office in Pittsburgh, PA.