ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Chip Ganassi’s signature catchphrase is a description of those lucky enough to witness another side of an ordinary man whose teams have done extraordinary things in auto racing.
Although he often comes across as gruff and sometimes standoffish in interviews, Ganassi actually enjoys interacting with small groups of reporters, challenging assertions and questions with the sharpest Pittsburgh talent honed over decades in garages and paddocks around the world.
The names of Chip Ganassi Racing frequently pepper his phone calls and conversations with a couple of words that follow the chase as they invite further conversation.
On March 3 sitting with four reporters inside the host IndyCar team six – two days ago Marcus Ericsson Opened in 2013 at the time of victory in Firestone Governor of the city of St. Petersburg — there was no clearer indication that Ganassi enjoyed his return to the media (especially after he didn’t do any interviews for months during the 2022 season due to contract disputes with Alex Palou).
“What else?” he asked half-a-dozen times between at least a dozen deadpan pups and razor-sharp stabs:
• Into the future of his IndyCar driver line: “We never wait for a plan. We don’t just throw arrows.” And after being pressed about Scott Dixon’s future, “Oh, I’m not going to have him forever? ok Dixon signing an 11-year deal.”
• This year the sellout of the 24 Hours of Maine: « How come there is no coach in the field? The whole field would be as big as Marion County.
• When interviewed about the new “100 Days to Indy” docuseries: “That’s what I got in the game. To be on TV.
• The rebranding of Indy NXT: “Yeah, there was a problem with that series. It was a name! God, why don’t we think of this? All caps!”
• In the US judicial system: “Why do you never want to go to court? You put your life in the hands of 12 people who can’t get out of the judge’s office.
If not for his upbeat mentality, Chip Ganassi Racing’s status is strong early in the 2023 season.
From winning the IndyCar opener March 5 and high fives the Extreme E opener Last weekend, CGR prepared Cadillacs, which will compete in two of the biggest sports cars in the world this week at Sebring International Raceway.
The winning organization in the 2022 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will defend the title on Saturday with the No. 01 Cadillac V-SERIES R .
Earlier in the day, at 1,000 miles from Sebring, Ganassi will watch the No. 2 Cadillac Racing V-Series R began its first season in the World Endurance Championship. Ganassi and Roger Penske are the sole owners of the team supporting full-time entries in WEC and IMSA this year.
The signature event of the WEC is the 24 Hours of Maine, whose field on June 10-11 is both No. It will include 01 and 02 Cadillacs. That will give Ganassi (and Cadillac Racing) two shots at winning Le Mans again, after taking the GT category victory with Ford in 2016.
12 HOURS OF SEBRING: Details, schedules and viewing information for Saturday’s race
Just don’t ask the fight if the overall victory would mean even more.
“He doesn’t understand things,” said Ganassi. “We’re not like any other race, because you’re in another race. We’re competing as hard as whatever race we’re in, it’s a different race. They were running. You see the rules. You try to maximize the rulebook and give the best effort. We do that every week.”
OK, but doesn’t it feel a little different? The universal prototype is bigger than the GT.
“Because you say they are.”
But isn’t that what we also call WEC and ACO?
“There is a reason,” Ganassi said with a smile. “It didn’t feel any different than to win our class in GT with Ford. It felt as big a win as ever, believe me. And it was! We beat all those who ran against it. That’s what we want to do in the current class. We want to beat everyone else in the class.”
What didn’t happen in time, however, was for American-based sports cars to take on the best European teams. Is it a long order?
“Yeah, and if I didn’t think it was a good shot, I wouldn’t go,” he said. “We’re up to it.
Wayne Taylor disappointed: But the team recovered to take the points lead for Sebring after a penalty
During the 1-hour and 4-minute session, Ganassi touched on topics from almost every major racing series (IMSA, NASCAR and Formula One among them), and kept one of his biggest ramblings in IndyCar racing.
“Everyone wants to take a snapshot that in 1996 we had three chassis, three engine manufacturers and two graphic teams competing for the championship in the last race” of the Champ Car season, Ganassi said. “Was that great? No, it wasn’t great. But times are different today. I remember when I was trying to qualify in 1982 (for the Indy 500), there were 60 (expletive) drivers there, OK? I mean, today is different.
“But I’m not sitting there and saying we need to go back. These are the days of glory. We are in the glory days, OK? Can we do a better job? We can definitely do a better job. I will come to your office and show you how you can do a better job. You can come to me and tell me how I can do a better job. We can all do it. But that’s what my client wants. The proof for me is where we are, and we want to go to that next level. Doing a better job of marketing, getting the word out that this is a great career series and some of the greatest careers. It is a real course. The thing itself.
“It’s not NASCAR. It’s not Formula One. I mean, face it. Formula One is about everything but careers OK? It’s almost back racing.”
Some other lumps of Ganassi;
• Takuma Sato’s team has confirmed that it wants to run in all oval races, but currently only has funding for the Texas Motor Speedway and the Indy 500. “We’re all trying together,” Ganassi said. “They don’t have a sponsor now.”
The coach is not in the Circle of Leader program that brings in good money, so Ganassi conceded that it could be sidelined. But he also indicated that Mark Armstrong could expand his road and track schedule if the rookie (who is trying out a preseason session at the Thermal Club) continues to show flashes of great promise.
“I want to control my interest,” Ganassi said. “He does not do all the nations. But if he is not careful, he will find himself in most nations.
• Who claimed revenge the second year of the women’s team in motorsports program that is to provide more career opportunities for women. Angela Ashmore is an engineer at Ericsson King No. 8 Dallara-Honda that won at St. Pete and in last year’s Indy 500. Danielle Shepherd Ganassi’s lead was made in No. 01 Cadillac this year he won Sebring.
“I’ve never been someone who wants to go and say, ‘Hey, let’s get the equity and diversity box,’” Ganassi said. “I think it’s got a bit of an authenticity to it as opposed to keeping it in a box. I consider this to be authentic, 1. No.
And hey, we’ll show you whether it was Indianapolis last year with Angela Ashmore, or Sebring with Danielle. To have these women in key positions. Is working. It happened. Don’t just check the box. I don’t call winning the Indy 100 or the Twelve Hours of Sebring as a feat done in the box.”
• The manager with the new team Taylor Kiel (who called Ericsson’s decision in St. Pete) joining the McLaren team, Ganassi said and the director Mike Hull actively carrying “looking at ourselves in the mirror said, “Where are we weak. ? Where then do we need to be stronger? What then is needed?’ A time for everything.
“We’re just now, dare I say it, we need to be a little younger. You’ll be doing it (Kiel) with a different crew than Mike Hull and myself. It has a different perspective on the game. I said to Mike one day, “He is plowing other fields than we are.” When it comes to people, he knows in the game, everything is different.
• No offense Jimmie Johnson’s retirement from NASCARwho, however, for the 2024 INDY D
I thought we were going to be OK there for another year,” Ganassi said of watching Johnson at No. 48 Honda. “I don’t want to say that it caught me off guard. I could go another year with Jimmie and Carvana. We talked about (the 2023 Indy D) with him a little bit. We want guys to come.
“I’m not saying you don’t want me to do it. Or I won’t do it in the future. I think Jimmie is well aware that we can do Indy this year, but it’s not a suitable glove. … The abstraction is that he and I are on as good terms as ever. We are never on bad terms.
• Although fortunate to own team owner Justin Marks and team president Ty Norris, Ganassi is naturally proud of the team members at Trackhouse Racing – most of whom hold over from the Cup organization. which were sold in 2011.
He also told what it was like watching Ross Chastain’s “Ave Cucumber” move (now he will be punished) at Martinsville Underwater last year.
“Look, I’ve been to Martinsville more times than I care to think about,” Ganassi said. “Surely 40. I saw, and I literally thought my eyes were deceiving me. What am I looking for here? Because I will watch and not pay attention and it is over the race, who is in, who is not. I saw, and I thought to myself, did they just go back to some remonstrance, and rush it or something? I was literally confused when I saw it. “
Then he diabolically referenced Chastain’s dust with Kevin Harvick at Darlington Raceway in 2018
“I just wonder what Kevin Harvick thinks about Ross right now,” Ganassi said with a chuckle. “What do we do now, Harv? So are we good now? I asked about it, tell him. Tell him I had a smile on my face!”
Despite the conflict Last year, Ganassi said that things are now with Alex Palou, and that the 2021 champion is accepted stay at Ganassi over 2013 (Although it’s been reported that they have an agreement to join Arrow McLaren thenr)
“He knows,” Ganassi said when asked if Palou could return. “Maybe it’s too much now. I don’t know. Hey, he never got out of his car for one minute on Friday, Saturday, Saturday last year. And I think he showed that. I’ve got him to set himself up for everyone. That’s no small feat.”
Just don’t ask for Ganassi about “doing” Palou.
“No case has been filed,” he said. “I don’t know what you guys have to say about the lawsuit. There is no dispute. The lawsuits were certainly written, but I never received them. There was no cause. We entered into a discussion, which is in the stipulation. You are not asking someone to go to the arbiter. That is published in the contract.’
Why did Ganassi Palou hold on to his option year when many other team owners say he should walk before the end of the driver’s contract if he is ready to move on?
“How many other owners don’t want to hold onto their driver’s 14 championships and six Indy 500 wins?” The Ganassi were defeated. “Talk to me about these masters. ok With those owners (winning 14 championships and six Indy 500s), tell them how they feel. Then we speak evil to evil.”
This is not to say that Ganassi holds himself above the masses.
During the interview, he was the happiest as he proudly swam a mile in the public outdoor pool around the corner from the posh Vinoy Renaissance hotel in St. Petersburg
“Where else are you going to swim,” Ganassi said soothingly. “It is a large lake, a 50 meter lake. There aren’t many around. I did 16 laps in a 50 meter tank. I am hardly an Olympian.’
Perhaps, team representatives suggest, Michael Phelps could be brought.
“I like to win,” Ganassi said.
What more? A lot of Chip Ganassi, whose careers are linked, to the beginning of the strength in 2023 first appeared in NBCSports.com