Prior to the Chevrolet announcement, Chip Ganassi announced that 2013 Indianapolis 500 Tony Kanaan will join Chip Ganassi Racing Teams in 2014.
JIM CAMPBELL: “It’s great to be here in Houston and I just would like to make a very special announcement today. Chevrolet would like to announce that we will partner with Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2014 IndyCar season. We have a tremendous amount of respect for Chip, Mike Hull and the entire team and the way they have organized themselves: and the way they conduct themselves: and the way they have garnered results.
Over time nine championships in IndyCar, also four Indy 500’s to date. This is really a proud moment. A lot of respect for Chip, we have a chance to work together on the stock car side of our business. It’s going to be great to have Chip Ganassi, Mike Hull and the entire organization with Chevrolet power for 2014 - it’s a special day.”
We have had some great years and great races with Honda, but the opportunity came up to be with Chevrolet and they really showed a sincere effort in wanting us to be a part of their organization and their program. My hat’s off to Jim Campbell and Mark Reuss and everybody at General Motors for making this happen.”
IF (RYAN) BRISCOE DOESN’T GET HURT AND TK (TONY KANAAN) DOESN’T RUN THE GRAND-AM RACE IS THAT WHERE THIS CHANGE STARTED, OR WERE YOU DOWN THAT ROAD BEFORE THEN? CHIP GANASSI: “I think we were… that’s a good question I hadn’t thought of that. I mean you know we were obviously at that time wanting to get back to a fourth car. I think that sort of falls in the category as if Dario (Franchitti) doesn’t crash at Talladega in a stock car would he have ever come back and have won the championships he’s won in IndyCar racing. I don’t know. It’s unfortunate that people get hurt from time to time in this business. Thank God that wasn’t too bad.”
“Well it’s hard to say it wasn’t in the works. This has been in the works for five years. In terms of Tony (Kanaan) and I it’s been in the works for five years. We have always stayed closed and stayed friends. It’s not something that happened over night for sure with Tony. It certainly didn’t happen as fast as Chevrolet.”
HOW MANY YEAR DEAL IS THIS WITH TONY? CHIP GANASSI: “You know we don’t talk about those kinds of things and we don’t talk about contracts with our drivers or contracts with our sponsors in the team in the media, but thanks for asking.”
TAKING ON FOUR ADDITIONAL CARS IS THERE A LIMIT TO HOW MANY CARS YOU CAN SUPPLY OR MIGHT WE SEE SOME TEAMS THAT HAVE CHEVY TODAY SWITCH? JIM CAMPBELL: “Well what I would say is clearly all of the teams they are looking at their options for next year there is no doubt about that. In terms of our capacity we are obligated in our contract with IndyCar to have the ability to handle up to 60 percent of the field. We can handle well beyond that. Plus we got a bump up for the Indy 500 only. We do have enough capacity, but we will see how it all shakes out here at the end.”
DID YOU EVER THINK YOU WOULD HAVE THIS OPPORTUNITY COME BACK IN YOUR DIRECTION? TONY KANAAN: “I would say I would go back to 1998 the first time we talked. So it’s been more than five years, but recently yes when the sponsor left the last team I raced I went straight I remember walking into Mike Hull’s office and talking about how we could do something together. I think the opportunities they are there every day.
If I didn’t think about it that means I didn’t want to win races. I wanted to be in the best team with the best guys that have been beating me forever. I thought about it every single day that is how I think I proved in the past three years how much effort I had to put into keep going after everything we won. Opportunities are there it’s up to you to take it and make the best out of it. To answer your question I thought that was a possibility, yes.”
WHEN YOU ALMOST SIGNED TONY BEFORE AT THAT TIME YOUR PEOPLE TALKED TO HIS PEOPLE, BUT YOU DIDN’T ACTUALLY TALK DIRECTLY TO TONY. THIS TIME DID YOU CALL HIM? CHIP GANASSI: “No. That was a very difficult period. There was a lot going on there at that time and maybe some of your facts might not be as stated. We sort of know I think Tony and I know what happened then and we know the truth and we better just leave it at that.”
JIM CAMPBELL: “In closing here I just also want to thank Steve Lauletta for just an amazing job of working with us over a short period of time to make this happen. Thank you, Mike (Hull) thank you and Chip to your team a lot of respect for this guy not only for his accomplishments in IndyCar, but you look across all the series and he knows how to build championship winning teams. Again, it’s a pleasure to be partnering with Chip Ganassi Racing 2014 and we are looking forward to it.”
HOW DID THIS COME TOGETHER? JIM CAMPBELL: “Specific team negotiations in terms of contracts we just don’t talk about that stuff. What I would say as our approach in any series including IndyCar is we want to bring the right technology, right expertise related to in this case the powertrain and also the overall integration and we want the best teams. We think we had a great year last year. We are in the hunt this year.
Just being able to add Chip Ganassi Racing in 2014 it’s going to make us even stronger. With that said there are a lot of teams that are still evaluating their options. We compete in over eight series so we go through a lot of negotiations with teams. We know they have choices. Sometimes they stay with us sometimes they don’t, but I am hopeful that all those teams will look at us seriously and stay with us time will tell.”
IS IT FAIR TO SAY YOU ARE PROBABLY NOT GOING TO SUPPLY THE CURRENT ENGINES YOU ARE SUPPLYING PLUS FOUR NEXT SEASON? JIM CAMPBELL: “I would say time will tell. Our obligation to the series is to provide at least 60 percent or greater. So we are prepared to do that but our capacity is well beyond that. We will see where we end with all the team discussions and will ramp up accordingly or we will ramp down accordingly.”