Dixon-Franchitti Pairing Set to Make Racing History; Australia's Surfers; Paradise Race Will Offer Preview of 2009 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Lineup INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (October 23, 2008) -- When Target Chip Ganassi Racing (TCGR) begins their...
Dixon-Franchitti Pairing Set to Make Racing History; Australia's Surfers; Paradise Race Will Offer Preview of 2009 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Lineup
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (October 23, 2008) -- When Target Chip Ganassi Racing (TCGR) begins their 2009 IndyCar Series season with Scott Dixon, the reigning IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 Champion and Dario Franchitti, the 2007 IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 Champion, racing history will be made. TCGR 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.
"It's going to be a lot of fun to see these two guys as teammates next season," said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. "I think they'll bring out the best in each other. They are very similar drivers in that they are both, calm, cool and patient and are equally adept on road courses as they are on ovals. I know we have had some pretty good duos in our cars over the years like Vasser and Zanardi, Vasser and Montoya and Dixon and Wheldon but I think this one has the chance to be real special."
The two champions will hit the track for the first time as teammates later this week on the streets of Surfers Paradise in Queensland, Australia -- where Franchitti won the 1999 event. The Nikon Indy 300 will offer a preview of TCGR's 2009 lineup during the non-points series finale.
"It is surprising that such a feat has not happened before in the Indianapolis 500's long history," said Indianapolis 500 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Historian Donald Davidson. "Former '500' winners Al Unser, Rick Mears and Danny Sullivan were teammates at Penske in the 1980s, and Graham Hill and Jim Clark were teammates at Lotus in Formula One, but never before have the two most recent marquee event and series champion been teammates. Given Chip's appreciation for the history of this sport, I'm sure this is something he's quite proud of."
The pairing of Dixon and Franchitti also comes on heels of the Chip Ganassi Racing's (CGR) best season (still with nine races to go) in their 19-year history with 14 wins across their six teams in four different touring series. In addition, CGR became one of only a handful of race teams to reach the 100-win milestone when it did so in July.
Dixon is coming off his second championship season (2003, 2008), where he won a record-tying six races. He is the only current IndyCar Series driver with multiple championships on his resume as a result of 135 starts between the CART and IndyCar Series, producing 17 wins, 15 poles and 89 top-10 finishes (2001-Present).
Franchitti returns to the IndyCar Series after winning four races during his championship run in 2007. He has over 180 starts under his belt between CART and the 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.