As the CART FedEx Series prepares for Sunday's Miller Lite 200, Chip Ganassi, owner of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, offers his thoughts on a variety of topics. Q: How do you feel about Team Target's performance following the first 12 races of...
As the CART FedEx Series prepares for Sunday's Miller Lite 200, Chip Ganassi, owner of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, offers his thoughts on a variety of topics.
Q: How do you feel about Team Target's performance following the first 12 races of the CART Series?
A: To sum it up in one word, I would say proud. This team has been through a lot in the past six months. We asked them to change packages to Toyota-Lola, and they did that remarkably well. We asked them to prepare for an extra race - the Indy 500- and they did that and won the race. We even asked them to run two races in the same weekend because of the rescheduled race in Nazareth. No problem. We've had ups and downs on the track this year, but I'm very proud of this team for sticking together and continuing the high performance standard Target Chip Ganassi Racing demands.
Q: Do you have any regrets about the switch to Toyota and Lola in the off-season?
A: Absolutely not. Both Jimmy and Juan have been able to do some great things on the track this year. Jimmy has been on the podium a few times and Juan continues to win races and poles, so it's been very satisfying to be able to reward the people at Toyota for all of their hard work with their first wins in the series. We didn't plan on taking a year off just because we changed packages. We're still right in the thick of the championship race, so I'd say we're happy with our decision.
Q: Is the 2000 CART FedEx Championship still in reach for Team Target?
A: Of course...there aren't too many teams that have been mathematically eliminated from the championship race. It would be great to be on top of the standings with a nice cushion, but we're going to battle right up until the end. With seven races left, there are a lot of points out there. Juan and Jimmy are tough on the road courses, and there's a nice stretch of those now where they could easily jump right back near the top of the points. It's like we're a baseball team and it's the sixth inning and we're down a few runs. We have to score a few runs in each inning and pull out the win. No one on this team is giving up.
Q: Describe what it was like to win the Indy 500?
A: I wish I could. I still have trouble putting it into words. It was just an amazing day. I raced there a few times in my career, so I knew about all the tradition and the history. I'd had dreams about being in winner's circle at the brickyard, but for it to actually happen was simply amazing. It's a moment I will never forget. I was so proud of the team, the sponsors, the drivers and everyone who made it possible -- it was definitely the best moment of my career.
Q: After four CART championships, an Indy 500 win and many other triumphs, what do you consider the secret to your success?
A: Well, if I had any secret formula, I wouldn't share it, but I don't think it's any secret how Team Target has achieved its success. We simply have surrounded ourselves with some talented, driven individuals who all have the same goal: to win. Teamwork is something I've stressed since day one, and that philosophy has been embraced by our crews, our drivers, our sponsors and everyone involved in Target Chip Ganassi Racing. No one here is satisfied with being second-best.
Q: What are the attributes that Juan Montoya and Jimmy Vasser bring to this team that help keep Team Target at the front of the pack?
A: I think Jimmy is a great leader. He has a laid-back, quiet demeanor, but also a natural ability to lead. I've been fortunate to be around Joe Montana, and they have some of the same traits. Jimmy's teammates respect and believe in him. On the track, he's one of the smartest drivers I've seen. He's been involved in the sport for quite a few years, he's learned from his mistakes and doesn't make the same mistake twice. We've been very lucky to have him on our team the past six years. As for Montoya, he's very competitive and aggressive. If there's someone in front of him, it's usually not for long. Juan is simply one of the most talented racecar drivers ever.