IndyCar Media Conference
Topics: IndyCar, Dario Franchitti, Target Chip Ganassi Racing
December 13, 2013
THE MODERATOR: Good morning. Great to see you here.
It's also appropriate that I'm here with the Chip Ganassi Racing team because it's been my distinct honor and pleasure to watch Chip from the time he was a race driver and build this team into the magnificent organization it is today. It's important to me on at least two different points.
Now to the meat. I have the distinct pleasure to announce Chip Ganassi Racing teams has signed Ryan Briscoe to a multi-year deal to drive for them. Along with the full support of Target and NTT Data, Ryan Briscoe will drive the No. 8 NTT Data Chevrolet. Tony Kanaan will move to the No. 10 Target Chevrolet.
Let me introduce the participants here today, beginning with Chip Ganassi, the owner of Chip Ganassi Racing. Mike Hull, the managing director of the organization's Indianapolis operation. Tony Kanaan, champion of the Indianapolis 500, and who has a new action figure out. I have a lot of children and grandchildren and you cost me a lot of money (laughter). I can't figure out whether you're winning or surrendering to somebody.
TONY KANAAN: When you win the 500, you can do anything you want (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: And, of course, Ryan Briscoe, the new driver of the No. 8 NTT Chevrolet. Last time I saw Ryan face-to-face was at a drag race when we pulled the trick we all did in drag racing of inviting him out to the starting line, put him between the Christmas tree between two Nitro cars when they were ready to launch. We didn't tell him what was coming. It turned from noise, into a physical thing, the ground vibrated. You should have seen his face (laughter).
Dan Griffis, the director of events for Target. Jeffrey Womack, the CMO of NTT Data. Can't leave this guy out, Scott Dixon, the reigning and two-time winner of the IndyCar Series. Charlie Kimball, the driver of the No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chevrolet. Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Steve Lauletta, the president of Chip Ganassi Racing teams. And Terry Dolan, the manager of Chevrolet Motorsports marketing.
Let's get to the meat right away. Chip Ganassi, you've seen some changes in seats in the cars. With T.K. moving into what is a car with a number that has quite a legend behind it, how did that decision come about?
CHIP GANASSI: First of all, it's great to be on a stage with all the talent that's up here, the driving talent. I mean, it's every car owner's dream to have this kind of talent on your team. I'm first and foremost very proud of that.
We're here today because a lot of partners came together and pulled off something that only great partners can do, and that is obviously, the NTT car and Ryan, he has a little bit of history with NTT. He was designated to drive our car, the sports car that NTT sponsored here at the Brickyard last August, in conjunction with the NASCAR race. Ryan was hurt prior to that, hurt his wrist and wasn't able to drive. Tony Kanaan stepped in for him.
It started a snowball of events that ultimately worked around to today's announcement where Ryan is going to be in the No. 8 NTT IndyCar, and Tony moves over to his best friend's car, the No. 10 that was vacated unfortunately by Dario Franchitti, who sends his regards. We were all on the phone with Dario. He's going to stay involved with the team. He wants to know when we're testing, wants to be there to help out. So we're ready to go. He couldn't be more proud of the talent on this team also. He looks forward to being a part of it continuing forward.
So it's kind of an interesting thing to have his best friend get in his seat, and Tony's seat that he vacated filled by a guy our team has a lot of history with. I was with Ryan last night and he was talking about being a veteran IndyCar driver. I want to remind him, when he first came over to the States, he was a test driver for Toyota. He came over to drive for us at Phoenix, first time in an IndyCar. So, yeah, it's great to have a veteran like that.
Let me say this. We had a lot of drivers, a lot of young talent, a lot of veteran drivers call us that were interested in the drive. We just felt with the history of NTT, it made a better fit with Ryan. Ryan was the best fit possible. His experience was a little bit more than most out there. That goes a long way with the schedule we're looking at next year.
We're pretty pumped up. Like I said in the beginning, this doesn't happen without the coming together of a lot of people and a lot of give-and-take on a lot of people's parts to make this happen.
I want to thank the people from Target, NTT, Brian, all the partners that came together, Novo Nordisk, everybody and every driver that made this happen. It's a great thing to be a part of.
THE MODERATOR: You must be proud.
Mike Hull, director of operations. You have to integrate these two new guys into the organization. Obviously they're great. But what do you have to go through to put them in the cars, get the cars right, communicate who they are?
MIKE HULL: The teammates and teamwork, that's what it's all about, is the drivers that you have in front of you, what they represent as a culture, that's the integration of Tony and Ryan into this. Teammates make their teammates better. That's what they do. They care more about the team than they do themselves. That's what we've always done at Chip Ganassi Racing. That runs through the entire network of people that we have and how we support the product.
In turn, that's how we represent our brand and the brand for NTT Data, Target, Novo, all the other sponsors we have involved with us.
One of the greatest things about what happened today is first of all the sponsor group is here. They wanted to be here. They want to be part of what we do. I think that's representative. I think that's a short answer to who we are, but it's all about making your teammate better. That's the integration process that we have.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
Ryan Briscoe, finally a three-year deal, multi-year deal for the team. You have to be smiling as much as I am. It's finally here for you.
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, I feel like one of the luckiest guys out there at the moment. This is sort of full circle. Chip touched on it. The first IndyCar I ever drove was one of Chip's back at the end of the 2004. It's been a rollercoaster ride since then.
Had a lot of great experiences all over the place. I've driven a lot of great racecars. But nothing beats being back here. Can't wait to get integrated into the team again, being teammates with Tony, Scott and Charlie. I think it's going to be an unbelievable year.
Just really want to thank all the sponsors, NTT, Jeff here. We had a great time at Indy this year. It was an unbelievable experience. We talked back then about this plan of moving forward, having a future, and here we are.
It's just a great feeling. Just want to thank Chip and Mike for the support. Finally we've got this down, it's out there, it's going to be time to get to work.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Ryan. Welcome aboard.
I think everybody who loves the Indy 500 loves the little traditions, the little moments. I know from my first time there, I can show you exactly the seat I sat in. Other people say, I stood there, I stood over there, I watched this happen. One of those little ceremonies happened earlier, it was the Borg-Warner trophy when they unveiled the new image with the new champion on it. We looked at this image. You had set another record. Your nose stands out the furthest than any other driver on the trophy.
TONY KANAAN: Like I said, when you win, I didn't really care much how my face was going to look on that trophy as long as I was going to be there. I told the artist, Even if you just want to put a nose in there...
THE MODERATOR: You're taking over really a legacy car, Dan Wheldon, Dario Franchitti.
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, I mean, it's unbelievable. We touched on it a little bit. This year has been an unbelievable year for me. A lot of people know I almost had a history in the 10 car before Dario got there. Dario proved that seat, coming from Dan, Dario and myself.
I remember one of the toughest times this year when Dario was in my house in Florida doing all the tests to see if he was going to be able to drive it. I didn't know how to talk to my best friend, when he broke the news to me. He looked at me in the face and said, You know, it would be really cool if you could drive the Target car and replace me. I think it's going to make it easier on my retirement.
Obviously it's Chip's call, Target's call. I thank also our partners, Steve and all the sponsors, NTT, Target, to pull something like this off. It's unbelievable the support we get, and everybody believes as a team what we can accomplish.
I'm happy. I'm extremely excited. It's a hard shoe to fill. A lot of good history in that car. Hopefully we'll be able to make more history. I'll be very popular when I go home tonight and tell my wife I get the 10% (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Tony.
Dan Griffis is the director of events and marketing. 10 championships out of this team, four Indy 500 wins. Do you have a little trepidation or are you as excited as the rest of us?
DAN GRIFFIS: Let me start by saying we're thrilled. It's very difficult to find a replacement for somebody like Dario. Dario was an outstanding racecar driver, is an outstanding racecar driver, was a good person and a good friend.
Anytime you're put in this type of position, it's always difficult, but we know that the next chapter in Dario's career will be very successful. We look forward to being a part of that in some way, shape or form.
We also know that change is inevitable and brings great opportunity. Over the last 25 years of partnering with this guy here, Chip Ganassi, we know one thing is constant with him: he makes incredibly smart and wise decisions when it comes to his race team and Target.
When he told us that Scott was our driver 13 years ago, Dario was our driver six years ago, that Tony is our driver today, we responded exactly the same, which is with incredible enthusiasm and our pledge to give Tony the right resources to be as successful as he can in the racecar and continue to build on the legacy of a quarter of century of success that we've had with Chip. It's a great time for the team.
We also want to welcome Ryan back to the Ganassi family. Had a great relationship with him back in '05. Nice to see him back where he belongs. A formidable foursome that Chip has put together. We're just thrilled to be a part of it.
THE MODERATOR: Looking forward to it.
Senior vice president, CMO, NTT Data. This seems like a total win-win for you guys.
JEFFREY WOMACK: No kidding. Absolutely. It's good to be here. Ryan is such an exceptional talent. Really hit it off terrific this year with the NTT Data team. We're excited to have him driving for us, representing NTT Data. We were over the moon working with Tony this year. This is a unique opportunity with this move for us to help honor the tradition and legacy of the No. 10 car, the special friendship that he had with the last two drivers. It's good to be a part of that.
You hear a lot of us talking about being one team. I'll tell you, it's real. On any given race, we feel like all four of these drivers are representing NTT Data. As they've proven, a team that can put three drivers on a podium in one race, what sponsor would not want to be a part of that?
We're having a blast, thanks to Chip. Looking forward to working with Ryan, Tony, Scott and Charlie as well. We can't wait for the next season to start.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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