St. Pete: Chip Ganassi Racing preview

Target Chip Ganassi Racing Oh, What a Start: The team's Indianapolis-based shop, which fields two IndyCar Series entries and one Daytona Prototype in the Rolex Sports Car Series, have gone a combined three-for-three to start the 2008 ...

Target Chip Ganassi Racing

Oh, What a Start: The team's Indianapolis-based shop, which fields two IndyCar Series entries and one Daytona Prototype in the Rolex Sports Car Series, have gone a combined three-for-three to start the 2008 racing season. The No.01 TELMEX/Target Riley went to victory lane and claimed an unprecedented third straight Rolex 24 At Daytona in January with drivers Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Juan Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti. As an encore performance the team went on to win twice last Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway (HMS) -- first with Pruett and Rojas in Round 2 of the Rolex Series and again with Dixon in the IndyCar Series opener.

91 and 92: Pruett and Rojas' win in the Rolex Series and Dixon's win in the IndyCar Series last week at HMS marked the 91st and 92nd victories overall for Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, Inc. (1990-2008). CGR teams combined have won 42 oval races, 33 road courses and 17 street races.

Going Global: Earlier this week Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, Inc. announced development driver Marc Williams of New Zealand would contest the remainder of the Firestone Indy Lights season through a partnership with Integra Motorsports beginning this weekend in St. Petersburg. Williams will pilot the No. 9 Cool Blue Water Dallara, adding another level of global appeal to the team's stable of 12 drivers representing six countries over six series.

Scott Dixon and the No. 9 Target Honda Team

How'd They Do That?: Dixon's win from pole position in the season opener last weekend was his second at Homestead. The only other win for him at HMS came in 2003 -- the year he went onto win the IndyCar Series championship. His TCGR engineers reported Dixon's No. 9 Target Honda Dallara used 97 gallons of fuel, spent 122 seconds in the pits (the fastest car on pit lane), shifted 81 times and had over 149,000 wheel revolutions throughout the 200-lap event.

Full Steam Ahead: When asked how the momentum of last weekend's win could translate into a win at St. Petersburg, Dixon commented: "Well, we just need to win. The new qualifying system will be a little harder for everyone just to figure out what the best strategy is. It is vital to qualify up front for you to do well. So that will be our main goal - to qualify well and make the most of it. When it comes to the race we just need to stay out of trouble and if we need to jump a few spots the Target team in the pits has been fantastic and I'm sure they can help me a lot."

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Leading up to last weekend's race at Homestead, Dixon was hounded time and time again about his Target teammate Dan Wheldon's chances of a historic four-peat at the 1.5-mile oval, but insisted if anyone was going to dethrone the Brit it would be him. Dixon started from pole, passed Tony Kanaan with four laps to go and won the race. Well played, sir.

Scott Dixon, the pilot: Dixon will not only be in control of his car on the track this weekend, but also in the sky as he plans on flying his wife, Emma, and two dogs, George and Arthur into Albert Whitted Airport, which has a runway that serves as the front straight of the track. Dixon states: "Look out for low flying planes at St. Pete -- it might be us!" He just finished his private license accreditation but is now working on his instrument rating, which allows him to fly in the clouds. His progress on this feat is slow but steady as a result of a busy schedule with his recent wedding and season travels.

Been There, Done That: Although fellow IndyCar competitor Helio Castroneves is going for his third straight win at St, Petersburg this weekend, Dixon will be looking to cut-in on the "Dancing with the Stars" winner after settling for runner-up finishes the past two seasons. Dixon already has a three-peat under his belt at Watkins Glen International (2005-2007) and will look to extend that to a series-record four in a row in Round 10 on July 6th at The Glen.

Dan Wheldon and the No. 10 Target Honda Team

What Do You Need To Win Here?: Ask Wheldon and the 2005 winner of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will let you in on a few secrets for success. He says "a strong qualifying effort is an integral part on any road or street course, but having a well-balanced, consistent race car and great pit stops from your Target pit crew are must-haves" to get you to victory lane.

Home Is Where You Hang Your Helmet: As a resident of St. Petersburg, Wheldon will not have to go far for this weekend's race. Throughout his racing career, Wheldon has never had a home track. The streets of St. Petersburg are the first and only race track he has been able to call home.

Behind the Scenes: TCGR Crew Chief and right front tire changer Kevin O'Donnell explains what happens with last weekend's primary car that was damaged on Wheldon's qualifying attempt: "We raced our spare car at Homestead and will race that same chassis at St. Pete. That car was always intended to be the primary car for St. Pete. The car we crashed at Homestead will be repaired for Motegi, with some new bodywork fit to it. One interesting thing about the Homestead car that we raced is that the first lap it made that weekend was the pace lap of the race. There are many different adjustments that can be made to a car, so for us to get it right (third place is "getting it right", perfect would have resulted in a win) in one shot is a testament to the mechanics and the engineers ability to do their job well. Probably the biggest time crunch was getting the car through inspection on race day, but that's our fault. We could have come in earlier than we did. I'll make a note of it for next time!"


Topic: Which team is your NCAA Final Four pick: UCLA, Kansas, Memphis or North Carolina?

Scott Dixon: "I have no idea who any of those teams are because I don't really follow much basketball let alone college stuff. I guess I would go with UCLA because it sounds a little cooler that the others."

Dan Wheldon: "I actually don't like college basketball. I find it hard to follow because I can't relate to it."

Topic: March through April marks the highlight of Spring Break travel time in the United States, do you have any memorable spring breaks as you were growing up?

Scott Dixon: "Yeah, NZ is a little different because our big holidays are around Christmas and our summer time. But most memorable would be going camping with my family cooking on a BBQ and hanging with friends."

Dan Wheldon: "There are no trips that I took as child, because we didn't have Spring Break in England."


No. 9 Target Honda: Chassis (IR6-6) won Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio in 2007. Chassis was new in 2006 and won at Homestead last weekend.

No. 10 Target Honda: Chassis (IR6-4), which was the Homestead T-car that ran last weekend from the back to a third place finish.

-credit: cgr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Williams , Chip Ganassi Racing