Indianapolis, Indiana - Chip Ganassi Racing announced today that Jeff Ward will pilot the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet/G-Force for the 2002 Indy Racing League season. Ganassi, who currently fields two cars in the CART FedEx Championship ...
Indianapolis, Indiana - Chip Ganassi Racing announced today that Jeff Ward will pilot the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet/G-Force for the 2002 Indy Racing League season. Ganassi, who currently fields two cars in the CART FedEx Championship series and two cars in the NASCAR Winston Cup series, will become the first car owner to run a full season in the three major American racing series. Ganassi is looking forward to the challenge.
"I'm looking forward to this season," Ganassi said. "However, I want to be cautious about this year because it is going to be a learning year for us. The main thing that we are trying to do is to gather information and expertise about these cars. It is going to be an exciting year for everyone involved in our team. I'm excited to have a driver like Jeff (Ward) with us because he has a lot of experience in these types of cars. I'm also looking forward to racing with some of my old friends in the Indy Racing League."
Ward, a veteran driver in the IRL brings an impressive resume to the Chip Ganassi Racing driver stable. In his 5 seasons in the IRL, Ward notched 11 top-5 finishes including a 2nd place finish in the 1999 Indianapolis 500. The 40-year old from San Juan Capistrano, CA is excited about the opportunity to drive for the 2000 Indianapolis 500 and 4-time CART champions.
"This is what I've been shooting for my entire career," Ward said. "I'm extremely excited to be running with a first class operation here at Chip Ganassi Racing. I feel that I have a great chance to win some races, most importantly, the Indy 500.
That has been a dream of mine since I started racing. I've been close to winning it a few times and this could be my best chance yet. As you can see by their track record, this team has a proven track record of winning. I tested the car at Fontana and we were pretty quick right out of the box. When Chip approached me about driving for him, I found it hard to wipe the smile from my face. It's quite an honor, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility...which is to win. I'm ready for that challenge."
Ward began his career in motorcross racing in 1977. He retired from motorcross racing in 1992 after posting 20 career supercross wins and 54 career national motorcross wins. Ward joined the Indy Racing League in 1997 and in his first Indianapolis 500, qualified 7th and finished 3rd. In 45 races in the Indy Racing League, Ward scored 22 top-10 finishes and notched 2 poles.
Rob Hill will manage the IRL program and Barry Wanser will assume chief mechanic duties on Ward's car. Hill has been with the Chip Ganassi Racing team since 1996 and guided former driver Alex Zanardi to the 1997 and 1998 CART Championships. Wanser began his career with Chip Ganassi Racing in 1997 as a gearbox mechanic and will now anchor a veteran crew of team members on the No. 9 Chevrolet/G-Force.
Chip Ganassi Racing begins their season in Homestead, FL on March 2 at the Grand Prix of Miami.