IRL: Indy 500: Chip Ganassi Racing, week one wrapup

Target Chip Ganassi Racing Indy 500 Week 1 Blog! Target drivers Scott Dixon, Darren Manning and Ryan Briscoe write down some of their thoughts on the day's activities on and off the track via their personal computers or the handheld...

Target Chip Ganassi Racing
Indy 500 Week 1 Blog!

Target drivers Scott Dixon, Darren Manning and Ryan Briscoe write down some of their thoughts on the day's activities on and off the track via their personal computers or the handheld Blackberry devices. Check in on the everyday to see what they are up to in their quest for the Indianapolis 500 crown on May 29.

Scott Dixon-#9 Target Toyota

May 8 -- Well, the first day back at the Indianapolis Speedway for the month of May. Not much going on. Was at the track today to help out teammate Ryan Briscoe complete his rookie orientation. It was great to walk back down Gasoline Alley and out to the pits. As usual the Alley Cats were there to give a little of their own encouragement. It was back to my bus (motorcoach). Unfortunately I had to empty the shitter. Not something I enjoy. I think that was all the duties for my day. Ryan did well and the 33 team finished the day up early as well.

May 9 -- Second day for me with no on track activity. Spent a few hours getting some camera shots and interviews out of the way... then on to lunch. Today we had Lasagna. Took some time with the boys (crew guys) as they arrived with our cars for on-track activity tomorrow. They looked worn out. It has been a rough few weeks for them. The weather once again was very good. It seems like it is going to be a hot week. Looking forward to get on track tomorrow.

May 10 - This morning I got to the track at 9 am to do the Bob and Tom show. I like to do that show a few times during the year because those guys are always a good laugh. After that, I went straight to the drivers meeting and then to an engineering meeting with my team to discuss our plan for the first week leading up to qualifying. Practice started at noon. We were running the Dallara for the first time at the Speedway, but we had a frustrating day because we never got our speed up. We changed a lot of things on the car, but even by the end of the day we were still pretty slow. Practice ended and I did a quick interview with Derek Daly on Wish TV Channel 8 News, called a few radio stations in New Zealand and then headed home for dinner and to watch the show "House." That show is great because the head doctor is such a smartass.

May 11 - We switched back to the Panoz G-force today so we spent some time familiarizing ourselves with the chassis again since it's been awhile since we've ran at IMS. After the first five runs or so we weren't happy with the car, so we sat down for a few hours and made some pretty big changes. When we got back out we picked up a ton of speed and I had a lot more confidence in the car. The progress was good, especially for the crew because they've been working really long hours, so it was nice to see the guys happy. We finished the day towards the top of the speed chart - that was a good change from yesterday. It rained around 5:30pm and ended the day early, so I went home. My mom and my grandpa got in from New Zealand last night and today was my mom's birthday, so my girlfriend and I took my family out for dinner at P.F. Chang's. My fortune cookie said, "You will inherit great wealth," so maybe that was a sign for the 500!

May 12 - It was an early morning because we did the WIBC radio show downtown Indy on Monument Circle at 7:30am. I got to the track around 8:30am -- way too early -- so myself and one of the mechanics decided to mess with Darren Manning's golf cart and take one of the spark plugs off. He drove around all morning thinking that he'd broken his golf cart because it would only go at walking speed. I played along for a while and pretended that mine was messed up too, but we eventually told him what we did after we saw him trying to push the golf cart to get it going. It was really windy out at the track today, so it made it difficult to trim the car out. Our speeds today were up and down, we played pretty conservative, but we'll be more aggressive tomorrow to prepare for qualifying on Saturday. There were a lot of kids out at the track today, so we signed a lot of autographs for them. We've had really good crowds all week, so hopefully a lot of people will come out this weekend for qualifying too.

May 13- Fast Friday. The day before qualifying we normally try to find a little bit more speed. It was a hot, windy and humid day. We did a couple of runs in the car, but the car wasn't very good. We weren't really concerned because we didn't think that weather was anything like the weather we were going to qualify in. It started raining, so I hung out in the team transporter for a few hours until they called an end to practice. Later that day I went to Tom Carnegie's party at the Pagoda Pavilion. That old bus has been there for 60 years! Met up with some friends for sushi that night and was in bed at 11pm.

May 14- Saturday. Pole Day. The forecast was so bad for today, so we pretty much knew from the start that everything was going to be called off. I still went to the track early for an 8:30am meeting, just in case, but it rained for the next five hours. All of the guys on the team were really bored, so we played "Soldier of Fortune" in the transporters to pass the time. A bunch of the guys have that game, so we tend to all play when we go out of town for tests and stuff. It's a funny game, you just go around and try to shoot your opponents or blow them up. I went home when they called off pole day and worked on my go kart for a few hours, had dinner at Mama Carolla's with some friends, watched a little bit of the NASCAR race and was in bed early.

May 15- Sunday. New Pole Day! Another early start -- up at 6:30am and at the track at 7:30am. Took my dogs down to the track for the day. They're pretty good, they just hang out in the motorhome all day. I had a team meeting at 8:30am. All of us TCGR drivers were in the group 1 practice at 9am. I struggled with understeer pretty bad and ended up doing the second open session to try and tune the car a little bit more, but we were having the same problems. For my first qualifying attempt, we made some subtle changes to the car -- or so we thought they were subtle changes -- but my car was so loose when I went out, that I had to wave off that attempt so I didn't put it in the wall. We waited until there was a break in the qualifying line and went back out to practice again. The car was better, so we got in line to make an attempt. We had a solid run, but we were definitely more conservative than we had planned on being because we had some handling issues. Also, the team has crashed a lot of cars this month, so we figured we'd play it on the safer side and at least have a complete car at the end of the day. At the end of the day, Manning and I had qualified, but Briscoe just missed the gun, so he'll have to qualify next weekend. Went to dinner at Bazbeaux with some friends, had a few beers, then went home to watch Grey's Anatomy.

Darren Manning-#10 Target Toyota

May 8 - Opening day, rookie training. Had a team meeting with all 3 drivers and Arie Luyendyk, who was there to help Ryan. Scotty and I were there to help also and get the month started. Sat in turn 2 grandstand with Scott and Bill my engineer for a couple of hours watching the first 2 or 3 stages of rookie training. Ryan was obviously all ok & all well on top of things so didn't need to do much. Autograph session, lots of familiar faces, AlleyCats game my girlfriend Audrey the nickname "Miss May" which was a bit of fun. Sure to get lots more from them. TV interviews at 6 pm on WISH TV 8. We'll be doing that all month. Should be fun. Watch!

May 9 --Arrived at track 10.30 am. Photoshoots and green screen bits for TV, a little voice over bits as well. All sorts of media PR stuff. Met with the mechanics as they moved into the garages today for the month. Got finished at about 12.30, so I went to play some golf with Kosuke Matsuura at the Brickyard Crossing Golf course (part of which is played inside the Indy track). Got caught on camera by the circuit cameras on hole 12!! They showed it on the big screen at the track and immediately our mobile phones started ringing! Hit a good shot so I was ok!! Went to Mari Hulman George's Racers party at track. Met up with a few drivers, new and old. So good to catch up with Sebastian Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira and have a bit of fun. Back to work tomorrow!

May 10 -- Had a 9am live Radio interview with Scott and Ryan on BoB & Tom, with track dude Michael Young and Derek Daly. Was fun. Had a laugh or 2. We always get ribbed for been foreign!!! There was the all driver meeting at 9.30am for the month of May and Brian Barnhart talked about new track and format. Team meeting at 10am. We talked about what each car was going to do through day. Got a lot of work done in first 2 hrs, car was great and was very comfortable quickly. Sat out the hot couple hours mid afternoon. Did a couple new sets tyres before happy hour then put car away as everyone was happy. Debriefed and came home!!! Phew.

May 11 -- Team meeting 10am. Was planning on running with Ryan to do some race setup work but Ryan ran over some debris from Buddy's car after he hit the wall in front of him. So I sat and waited for either Scott to finish setup work on his Panoz chassis or Ryan to get his other car ready. In the end, decided to run race simulations by myself as neither were ready. Target car was good on full tank runs so we waited till track cooled in late afternoon to do more qualifying work. Got one run in before it rained at start of the second. Did WISH TV 8 live interview at 5:45 pm, finished debriefing with my engineers and came home for early night as I'll be up early doing radio interviews on WIBC at 7:45 am. See you tomorrow.

May 12 -- Thursday-Pretty normal day with team meeting at 10 am then we started running at 12. Ran a while in the T car (back up) getting up to my fastest so far of 225+ mph. Then ran the primary for a couple of runs just to shake it down for Saturday. Got back in the T car for some new tyres but crashed on one of my build up laps in turn 2. I think I got a big gust of wind which made me loose on cold tyres. I am ok but the same could not have been said about the car. Sigh.

May 13 -- Friday. I had an all Indycar drivers and team meeting with Brian Barnhart to talk about qualifying weekend and to answer any questions we had. Spent some time in the garage with the boys who were building me a new T car. I was ready to run in the late afternoon but as the rain came we did not get out. Got checked out by Dr. Bock. All ok. Stopped in to see Buddy (Rice) at his motorhome to see how he was and have a bit of a chat about his accident and have a little fun with him. Came home got ready for qthe Qualifiers 500 Club party tonight where they are honoring Tom Carnegie for his 60 years as Indy track announcer. That man is quite a gentleman. Tomorrow is Pole day. Can't wait.

May 14 -- Sat. Should have been qualifying but rained all day. Was thinking of calling the team in the early morning to see if I could have a sleep in as was raining when I got up. There was no way we were going to be running at 9am!!! Went into track anyway. Had team meeting, went through every scenario possible to make sure we were ready for anything. Had a lot of TV, radio and media interviews as thgy were trying to fill time due to rain. IRL called it a day after lunch so finished a couple more TV interviews and came home.

May 15- Sun. It was dry so we started running at 9.30 as I drew early in the field so was in the first group of cars which were split in 2 groups. It was first time back in car after my shunt on Thursday so was a little nervous and took a little time getting up to speed. What made things worse was the fact the track and air temperatures were in the 50 degree (F) range which made the car more nervous as well. Quals started at 12 noon and I ended up 4th one out. Had a good run and was pleased to get it done clean. We kept the car in pretty high downforce level. It gave me some more confidence as we knew we had a couple more attempts if we wanted to try again. We didn't in the end as we did not think we could gain more than a few spots on the grid... so the risk versus reward was not worth it. Debreifed and came home. Did WISH 8 SportsLocker live TV show at 11pm which was cool. Talked about the day and did a fun Q& A bit. Got home at about 12am for a well needed sleep.

Ryan Briscoe-#33 Target Toyota

May 8 -- Good day out at the speedway. First laps around the track pretty special. In the end I was up to speed and loving it! Fans were amazing and surprised me with their enthusiasm.

May 9 -- A pretty relaxing day, just a few painful photo shoots and a couple of interviews. No on track activity for me.

May 10 --It was a good day first day on the track with the whole field out there to make this pretty busy at times. We had a good day and we did some good setup work on the car. Arie Luyendyke had been helping me a lot with some coaching and advice around the speedway. He a fantastic guy to be working with and his advice has really been helping me come to grips with the track. Speeds on track are getting faster all the time and it looks like it will be a very fast Indy 500 this year.

May 11-Not a fantastic day for us as we spent most of our time in the garage. When Buddy (Rice) had his accident this morning I ran over a piece of his rear end which put a hole in our tub. After swapping engines to our primary car we got out in the afternoon and did some work on used tyres and race level downforce. On a positive note we saved tyres which will help us in the lead up to qualifying over the next couple of days. It was a funny situation being able to get back to Ganassi headquarters (race shop) during down time for a work out in the gym! It's great being so close to base here.

May 12 - After a very tough day yesterday it was great to have such a good day today where we got a load of work done with good progress towards qualifying. ...but our day didn't get off to a fantastic start as we continued to have brake issues as we'd had yesterday. At one point it looked like Ricky, my chief mechanic, was going to shoot himself. Amongst my crew we've nick named him "GG" for Grumpy Gramps, and sometimes he just needs a hug to warm him up. But honestly, I couldn't ask for a better, more passionate chief mechanic. By the end of the day my car handling was almost spot on and we managed to put in a very solid qualifying simulation with no tow.

May 13 - Appropriately named Fast Friday, today's practice was fast over when Indiana storms came blowing over the Speedway. I put in a few good laps with my T-car before we called it a day. The conditions were tricky with hot and humid air producing low levels of downforce, and fairly strong southerly winds made turns 2 and 3 seem tighter than in past days. I lost count how many times it was said to me today that this was just a typical day of the Indianapolis 500 that everyone experiences every year.

May 14- Rain rain rain rain rain rain rain .. oh yeah more rain... cancel qualifying... no more rain. Welcome to Indiana.

May 15- A bit of an up-side-down day for me, almost literally! During my qualifying attempt my first timed lap was the fastest I'd gone all month, but I could feel we were really close to the limit on downforce levels. On my second green lap the rear came around on me when I made the down shift out of turn 1... which turned out to be quite a roller coaster ride. Whenever you spin at these speeds you always dread the first impact with the wall... when I only lightly brushed the wall I was so relieved and thought "that wasn't so bad", but next thing I felt the car lifting off and I was looking down at the race track below me! I guess I was just lucky not to catch the fence or anything and have the car come back down on all four wheels. Luck didn't stick around though when the track closed for qualifying about 10 seconds before we could go for an attempt in the back up car. Without a time today we'll have to qualify the car next Saturday for one of the tale end positions on the grid, lucky it's a 500 mile race!


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Arie Luyendyk , Bruno Junqueira , Scott Dixon , Ryan Briscoe , Derek Daly , Chip Ganassi , Brian Barnhart
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing