One news item that happened like a week ago (I totally whiffed this) was that announcement by Chip Ganassi that he will be firing up a two-car Indy Pro team next season. This brings the Indy Pro grid to roughly 140 entries…ok, not that much, but it should be more than the IndyCar series tally of 18-20 cars.
“I am excited about this,” team owner Chip Ganassi said. “Despite the fact that we are involved in a number of racing leagues, I am a big proponent of open-wheel racing in the U.S. I feel it is a great form of racing, and anything that we can do as an organization to help cultivate young talent in the cars and also in the garage is a benefit to us as a team and the open wheel racing industry.”I know Mr. Ganassi was talking about investing in open-wheel racing and I don’t doubt that he means that, but part of me also knows how competitive he is and how stung he was by the marginal title loss he suffered this past season to Team Penske. And as competitive as he is I don’t think the primary goal of this venture is to win at Indy Pro, because while Chris Festa is a nice driver and Pablo (another Ganassi Pablo!) Perez could be a find he could have found more proven drivers available.
No, the creation of this Indy Pro team would seem to be a tactical move aimed at claiming the IndyCar series title. By forming the junior team Target Chip Ganassi Racing will be allowed to perform extra practice during the season at certain race tracks. This extra practice proved to be an advantage in 2006 for Andretti Green racing as the extra test time paid off in a win for Tony Kanaan in Milwaukee. So considering how damaging the poor showing of the Target cars on smaller tracks was in 2006 it would seem to be a worthwhile investment of a few hundred thousand dollars towards the million dollar payoff of a series title.
BTW – anyone else hear the phrase “Target Chip Ganassi Racing” so frequently that you think Chip’s first name is Target? Is that just me? OK, sorry.