What? What? What?

Posted by Iannucci | 9/02/2008 | 26 comments »
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The braintrust at TrackSide Online just dropped the bomb.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing (TCGR) and Dan Wheldon, driver of the No. 10 Target Honda Dallara in the IndyCar Series, announced today they have agreed to part ways.

Chip Ganassi: "Dan Wheldon has done everything this organization has asked of him. (blah ... blah ... blah) Dan is a class act both on and off the track and we wish him nothing but the best."

Dan Wheldon: "I have enjoyed these last three seasons with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, but will be moving on to pursue a very exciting opportunity for 2009. (yada ... yada ... yada) I will be announcing my plans for next season in the near future. In the meantime I want to focus my efforts on winning the last race of the season. I wish the team well for 2009 and beyond."
And now ... the REST of the story.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing announced they will be adding former IndyCar Series and Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti as a teammate of the 2008 Indy 500 winner and current points leader Scott Dixon, as the driver of the No. 10 Target Honda. In addition, Chip Ganassi Racing and Target announced the details of their joint plans to take their partnership into its 20th season and beyond.
Hang on a second, my head is still spinning.

This makes sense in some respects, as Wheldon has struggled on the growing number of road courses, but Ganassi supposedly (a) offered the job to Tony Kanaan and (b) had an agreement in place with Wheldon. Which means (c) Mr Judd was his third option after NOT having an agreement with Wheldon. Dario is probably a superior choice, but you gotta wonder about a guy who already seemed like he wanted to get away from IndyCars, don't you?

I can't wait to find out how this decision got finalized, as well as where Wheldon ends up. Wow. Silly season just got ridiculous.

UPDATE: As noted in the comments below, the Intrepid Curt Cavin is on the case.

Wheldon will replace Vitor Meira in the No. 4 car of Panther Racing. Panther officials did not renew Meira's contract, although the driver said it's still possible that he could drive a second Panther car if sponsorship materializes. Meanwhile, he is exploring his options.
Looks like what goes around comes around, as Wheldon returns to the team that brought him into the league. Wow. Dan Wheldon representing the National Guard in stylish footwear. Go figure.

At any rate, that puts Vitor on the clock in the game of musical chairs.


  1. SS Minnow // September 02, 2008 12:56 PM  

    Uhhhh??? Like sands of the hour glass....

    If nothing else, outside of the bizzare, at least Target is on board. I seem to remember there being talk that they may not continue their racing sponsorships. (Very well could have been on the N-word side)

    Danica! and Ashley! references galore... oh wait, maybe Versus will actually have some racing content to use as filler.

    Wow, I'm actually getting excited about next season already!!

  2. Bash // September 02, 2008 1:03 PM  

    Somewhere (might have been during practice coverage on Indycar.com), I heard commentary that TK/his people approached Ganassi, supposedly to push the AGR thing and/or as a backup plan. Also, I heard a comment straight from a to-remain-unnamed reporter's lips during the Sonoma weekend that "TK lied to me about not having contacted Ganassi."

    It may also be that Dan made the statement about having come to terms to put some pressure on his contract renegotiation. Kinda hard to know what priorities Chip gave to whom, but TK falling into the mix no doubt created some real waves. Who wouldn't make TK their first choice out of those three?

    And no hint of this story on SPEED or Indystar.com. Nice work, TSO!

    As the Wheel Turns, indeed!

  3. SS Minnow // September 02, 2008 1:04 PM  

    Forgot to add the obligatory reference to Glengarry Glen Ross:

    "1st place, a Cadillac El Dorado"
    "2nd place, a set of steak knives"
    "3rd place, you're fired!!"

    Something is amiss if you finish 3rd in the Championship and get the axe. Gotta love Ganassi.

  4. Bash // September 02, 2008 1:11 PM  

    Okay, so it just turned up on Indystar.com...but still, kudos to TSO for working it!

  5. pressdog // September 02, 2008 1:20 PM  

    Ganassi is ice cold. Hope Danny find something and focuses the rage in 2009.

  6. Anonymous // September 02, 2008 1:24 PM  

    (bizarro-Defender mode)It's clear that Tony George bribed Ganassi to get Dario back to IndyCar because he wants Ashley in the paddock.(/bizarro-defender mode)

    Let's see if Ashley runs onto a hot track again and gets run over this time.

  7. Iannucci // September 02, 2008 1:33 PM  

    "1st place, a Cadillac El Dorado"
    "2nd place, a set of steak knives"
    "3rd place, you're fired!!"

    That's awesome! They need to put that up at the Ganassi shop because clearly it's now company policy.

  8. Anonymous // September 02, 2008 1:58 PM  


    Is it May yet??

  9. pressdog // September 02, 2008 2:15 PM  

    COULD be that Wheldon ditched Ganassi, not vice versa. I hope so.

  10. Anonymous // September 02, 2008 2:22 PM  

    Omigod. I was so happy to have Dario back until I came here and you all made it occur me that THAT means we're getting Ashley back, too. *groan*

  11. Anonymous // September 02, 2008 2:37 PM  

    Have you seen Indystar.com? The intrepid Curt Cavin is reporting that Wheldon will be replacing Vitor at Panther. Second car for Vitor may be an option if sponsorship materializes. Crazy.

  12. Anonymous // September 02, 2008 2:38 PM  

    Cavin says Wheldon will replace Vitor at Panther.

    "Wheldon will replace Vitor Meira in the No. 4 car of Panther Racing. Panther officials did not renew Meira's contract, although the driver said it's still possible that he could drive a second Panther car if sponsorship materializes. Meanwhile, he is exploring his options."

  13. Bash // September 02, 2008 2:49 PM  

    I need a new scorecard...this one is getting smudgy!

  14. Allen Wedge // September 02, 2008 2:51 PM  

    sounds like Vitors on the true short end; panther says they are trying to find sponsorship for him in a 2nd car, but pay no attention to the Anthony Davidson they are testing or Dillion Battastini who brings some money with him, or how Panther was supposed to find sponsorship for PJ Chesson this season...

    I wouldn't feel all too bad about Vitor returning to RLR.. that is assuming RLR is over the Scott Sharp/Patron thing by now and ready to return to 2 cars.

  15. Carrie // September 02, 2008 2:57 PM  

    Chip Ganassi, Dario Franchitti & Tony Kanaan can all kiss my white...

  16. Demond Sanders // September 02, 2008 3:01 PM  

    This sounds bad for Vitor, especially given the other names who have been rumored to be entering the series next year (Doornbos, Tracy, Lloyd etc.)

    This would be a good weekend to get win #1, VM.

  17. Anonymous // September 02, 2008 3:28 PM  

    I'm sooo ready for May again...

  18. Jennifer Coomer // September 02, 2008 4:24 PM  

    This fruit basket turn over is exciting. But Vitor better have a ride! And a good one!!

  19. Nan S // September 02, 2008 4:33 PM  

    Feel sorry for Vitor cuz I feel he's done well this year.

    The Dario thing has to be caused by the fact that Nascar won't allow anyone in the pits without full length pants and closed toed shoes. No sundresses and bare feet for Miss Ashley. After she showed up at the first race in a dress the other WAGs raised hell and Ashley had to comply with the dress code.

  20. Anonymous // September 02, 2008 4:50 PM  

    You know why they had to dump Wheldon?

    Teeth kept blinding the pit crew. Yeah, that's it.

  21. Anonymous // September 02, 2008 5:52 PM  

    I guess that Alex Lloyd gets the swift kick back to the "test driver" position, eh ? I was just getting used to a Dario-less series and was thoroughly enjoying it .... until now. I guess Dario will just 'settle' for this series. This is bull$@*t. Wheldon getting the ax for this definately makes Dario deserve a bullseye on his new uniform. Welcome back backstabber.

  22. Anonymous // September 02, 2008 6:44 PM  

    Ok, just got back from a long day of college classes to find this news. Happy about Dario, but sad about Vitor. Hope he gets a ride next season.

  23. Justin // September 03, 2008 3:16 AM  

    So much for John Barnes commitment to Vitor. Poof thats out the window.

  24. Anonymous // September 03, 2008 6:15 AM  

    Is there any chance that in the new TV deal -TG has a clause that Ashley can only been seen and not heard in 2009?

  25. Anonymous // September 03, 2008 6:24 AM  

    An email message to Vitor after four years (and a second place in this years Indy 500)?

    More proof that John Barnes and Panther Racing are a totally classless organization.

    I'm almost surprised that they didn't post it in the question and answer section.

  26. Anonymous // September 03, 2008 2:00 PM  

    More proof that John Barnes and Panther Racing are a totally classless organization. -dale nixon

    EM was not the coolest way to part company... but let's get real. IRL is a cold hard business. Winning pays the bills @ Panther Racing. Sam Hornish & Schekter WON races for this team... Vitor DID NOT.

    Dan Wheldon: Indy 500 winner & IRL Champion

    Vitor Meira: Lots of 2nds. No 500 wins No championships.

    Its a R-E-S-U-L-T-S business Dan has them... Vitor is a nice guy with tough luck. The National Guard & Delphi are not sticking around for 2nd places & hard luck stories.

    Winning must mean everything... The National Guard accepted a Brazilian (& now an Englishman) to promote their recruitment efforts!!!