Race: Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 27 (12:30 PM ET, ABC)
Track: Streets of St. Petersburg (1.8-mile street circuit)
Location: St. Petersburg, Fla.
Follow CGR on Twitter: Follow @CGRTeams for official updates from Chip Ganassi Racing’s INDYCAR and GRAND-AM teams.
Managing Director Mike Hull on St. Pete: “It's great to start the INDYCAR season with a well-promoted event in a major metropolitan city. St. Petersburg is a city that embraces and supports big events, so the Target Team and Indy car racing fit. Street racing requires a unique driving style, patience, and the driver's intense desire to find a set-up that rides over the bumps rather than through them. It puts an enormous premium on the driver's input combined with the team's ability to make rapid changes to the car as Bayshore, 1st Street, and the Albert Whitted Airport become a real race circuit. Secretly there isn't anyone on the planet that hasn't wanted to drive their car on a downtown street without police enforcement of stop lights and twenty-five mile an hour speed limits.”
In Good Company: Chip Ganassi was recently nominated in two different categories by Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and SportsBusiness Daily for the 2011 Sports Business Awards, Ganassi was nominated for the Sports Executive of the Year category along with George Bodenheimer from ESPN; David Levy from Turner Broadcasting System; Kevin Plank from Under Armour; and Pat Riley from the Miami Heat. Chip Ganassi Racing Teams also received a nomination in the Professional Sports Team of the Year category along with the New York Jets, Orlando Magic, Pittsburgh Penguins and San Francisco Giants. The 2011 nominees were selected based on their excellence and outstanding achievements in the business of sports from March 1, 2010 through Feb. 28 of this year. The winners will be announced at the Sports Business Awards Ceremony on May 18, at New York’s Marriott Marquis in Times Square.
Making History Together: Minneapolis-based Target celebrates its 22nd anniversary in motorsports with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2011. Since the formation of this dominant force in motorsports, the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team has amassed 80 victories and eight titles (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2008, 2009, and 2010), including three Indianapolis 500 victories (2000, 2008, and 2010). The 2011 season will include two full-time entries in the IZOD IndyCar Series with Dixon and Franchitti and a full-time entry in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for 1999 CART Champion and 2000 Indianapolis 500 Winner Juan Pablo Montoya, as Team Target continues to feature some of the world’s most accomplished race car drivers.
Start and Finish Strong: Since 2006, TCGR has won three of the last five IZOD IndyCar Series openers (2006, 2007, and 2008) and three of the last five IZOD IndyCar Series season-finales (2006, 2009, and 2010).
New Win Record for CGR: 2010’s 19-win total eclipsed the previous mark for victories in a single season (14) set in 2008. The past five seasons for the team have proven to be the most successful in history (1990-2011), as 70 of the 135 wins, or 52%, have been scored in that stretch.
‘Chip Slam’: Ganassi, who in 2010 was responsible for the motorsport ‘Triple Crown’ (Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 wins), added the first ever ‘Chip Slam’ of motorsports to his resume with a victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan 30 (all four major wins in a 12-month period).
Complementing Each Other: Since becoming Target Teammates, Dixon and Franchitti have combined to win 16 of the last 34 IZOD IndyCar Series Races (47%). Of these 16 wins, six (37%) have come on road or street courses (2009: Long Beach, Toronto, Mid-Ohio, Sonoma; 2010: Edmonton, Mid-Ohio).
Team History at St. Pete: TCGR has competed at St. Petersburg from 2005-2010 with four top-fives including Dario Franchitti’s fourth place finish in 2009 and Scott Dixon’s second-place finishes in 2006 and 2007.
A Force on the Course: In 97 street course races, TCGR has 20 wins, 45 podiums finishes, four of which saw both Target cars on the podium. The TCGR drivers have completed 13,007 of 15,526 (85%) laps, leading 1,388 laps. Since the first race at St. Petersburg in 2005, TCGR drivers have completed 1,157 out of 1,266 laps (91%) of the total laps run on the Streets of St. Petersburg over the course of six years.
Did You Know?: TCGR’s first Indy car win came on a street course in a season opener. Michael Andretti led all 55 laps in the Australian FAI Indy car Grand Prix at Surfer’s Paradise to kick off the 1994 CART World Series season.
Dario Franchitti and the No. 10 Target Team
Late Night TV: Dario Franchitti appears as a guest on the “The Late Show with David Letterman” March 23 on CBS as one of the final stops on his championship media tour. In addition to Franchitti, other guests appearing on the show include Ben Stiller and The Strokes.
Franchitti Inducted into Motorsport Hall of Fame: Reigning IZOD IndyCar Series Champion and Indianapolis 500 Winner Franchitti joined Sir Jack Brabham, Sir Frank Williams and Jody Scheckter in being the second class of inductees into the MotorSport Magazine’s Hall of Fame during ceremonies Feb. 15 in London. Franchitti, of Scotland, is a three-time IZOD IndyCar Series title-holder, including winning the past two. He recorded three victories in 2010, tying Rodger Ward for 11th on the all-time INDYCAR victory list with 26 (16 in INDYCAR, 10 in CART). Johnny Rutherford (27 wins) is next on the list.
Barber Testing Recap: Day one of testing at Barber Motorsports Park, Franchitti turned 28 laps in the No. 10 Target Honda Dallara with a best time of 1:13:15. Day two of testing, Franchitti turned 19 laps in the No. 10 Target Honda Dallara with a best time of 1:12:84.
Franchitti on Barber Test: "I think we struggled from the moment we got here. Scott has been fine and we need to work on our setup. It's up to myself and the engineers on the Target team to get this figured out. We'll go back to the drawing board. They put a lot of tires in the right places since last time I crashed here so I'm thankful they took our advice from a safety standpoint. Thanks to Mr. Barber and everyone here. I look forward to coming back for the race."
Champion’s Ring: Basketball legend Larry Bird presented the Herff Jones Champion of Champions Ring to Franchitti earlier this month at Conseco Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis.
New Blog: Franchitti’s season-long blog debuted on Boston.com last week, giving fans a rare glimpse into the lifestyle of the reigning series champion. The blog will run each Monday following an IZOD IndyCar Series event.
Historic 500 Ticket: The 2011 Indy 500 ticket features Franchitti celebrating in Victory Lane last May after earning his second victory in the world’s most prestigious auto race. Franchitti will attempt Sunday, May 29 to become the 10th driver to win the race at least three times.
Dario by the Numbers: St. Petersburg marks Franchitti’s 216th Indy car start, his 101st start in the IZOD IndyCar Series and his 34th with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Franchitti has claimed three IndyCar championships (2010, 2009, 2007), two Indianapolis 500s (2010, 2007), 26 victories and 25 poles in his U.S. Indy car career (CART, IRL) with 134 top-10 finishes.
King of the Streets: Franchitti earned his first Indy car win at the 1998 Texaco/Havoline 200 at Road America and grabbed his second open wheel win in the 1998 Molson Indy Vancouver street race. Franchitti has won eight of his 26 open wheel races on street courses.
Scott Dixon and the No. 9 Target Team
Barber Testing Recap: Day one of testing at Barber Motorsports Park, Dixon turned 26 laps in the No. 9 Target Honda with a best time of 1:12:55. Day two of testing, Dixon turned 44 laps in the No. 9 Target Honda with a best time of 1:12:28. Dixon was third fastest during this testing session.
Dixon on Barber Test: "Team Target had a good couple of days with lots of big and good changes. The No. 9 Target Honda has been decent, remaining in the top-three both days. We're just going through the motions and making necessary adjustments before we start the season in St. Pete."
Deuces: Dixon’s best finish at St. Pete was second, twice, in 2006 and 2007 with TCGR. In 2006 Dixon led 36 of the 100 laps. He has placed second three times on a street circuit (Denver 2002, St. Petersburg 2006 & 2007).
Flip-Flop: Last week, Dixon and fellow Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Jamie McMurray, swapped seats for an exhibition performance in Alabama. McMurray turned laps around the 2.36-mile road course at Barber Motorsports Park piloting Dixon's No. 9 Target IndyCar. Dixon, the 2008 Indianapolis 500 Winner, then climbed behind the wheel of McMurray’s No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet on the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway.
Helmet Auction: Dixon recently pulled one of his racing helmets out of a personal collection to be auctioned as part of Radio Sport New Zealand’s Christchurch Earthquake Auction, raising funds for victims of the recent earthquake. Dixon's IZOD IndyCar Series helmet is personally signed, and the Kiwi has even offered to make up the difference if the helmet sold for less than $10,000.
Dixon Hits the Streets: Sunday’s race at St. Petersburg marks Dixon’s 170th start and his 25th start on a street course. His first street race was at the 2001 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Since then, Dixon grabbed his first street course pole at the Detroit Indy Grand Prix in 2008 and has eight top-fives and 11 top-10s on street courses. Dixon won the most recent street course race, the 2010 Honda Indy Edmonton, a track that he also won in 2008.