Which Chip’ll Turn Up? Or, Ganassi’s Two Sides

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Image from Indy Race Reviewer

There’s no disputing Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s heavyweight status in the IndyCar series, even among the team’s most ardent detractors (which are legion). Heck, Chip alone accounts for nearly three hundred pounds of that hefty tally himself.

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Photo from ap.org

But there’s something rotten in Target-land beyond the Chipster. The up and down nature of TCGR’s season merits some attention from series observers, for it perhaps portends the success or failure of their upcoming campaign. After an uncharacteristically off year on track, there have been some rather unsettling corporate issues at chief sponsor Target lately, as well. All of these troublesome facts beg the question, which Chip’ll turn up in 2015?

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Photo from motorauthority.com

The god-awful start for Ganassi Racing last year at least was followed up by a vastly superior ending. That is unless your data was stolen in that horrendous hack of Target. Prior to the season the team made major changes, switching from Honda to Chevy power amid much fanfare. They failed to back it up with results, eating the dust of Penske, Andretti, Schmidt, Carpenter and even – gasp – Coyne.

Shell Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston - Day 2

Photo from gettyimages.com

In a further transitional turn, Ganassi also added Tony Kanaan to the four driver lineup, filling Dario’s seat after his unfortunate and abrupt retirement. Obviously TK’s no slouch, nor was the Chevy power plant the issue. A team the caliber of Target should be able to cope with such changes though clearly they couldn’t, at least not until the final four races.  So what was at the root of the problem in Ganassi’s glamorous garage last year?

penske ganassi usatodaycom

Photo from usatoday.com

TCGR’s lousy and lamentable first half of the season was in some ways predictable. Apart from the aforementioned issues, they also carried retread Ryan Briscoe for his second highly futile stint with the team. That’s apparently been remedied for 2015, as according to reports Briscoe’s now a free agent/unemployed racer/former IndyCar driver. The team’s abilities always seemed stretched at four cars – Chip never seemed to fully grasp it – and they should be leaner and more focused now with three.

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Photo from indystar.com

No thanks to Briscoe, the team recovered to salvage part of 2014 with an improved and at times quite impressive conclusion to the season. After a stupefying start, TCGR finally returned to winning form in three of the last four races. The strength of their remaining three drivers is beyond question, and they certainly turned it on in the final quarter of 2014.

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Photo from usatoday.com

Dixon won the annual snooze fest at Mid-Ohio and took his thirty fifth career victory at similarly snore inducing Sonoma, while Kanaan broke through with TCGR in winning his seventeenth race at the now former Fontana finale (much to our chagrin). Charlie Kimball won at Mid-Ohio in 2013 and has shown improvement as the relative youngster at TCGR. Considering Sage Karam’s their developmental driver, in some ways the future of TCGR looks extremely bright.

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Image from Indy Race Reviewer

Yet the team faces serious challenges – apart from dealing daily with Chip the Hutt – including a diminished funding stream from Target this year. In what must have been another chilling announcement for Ganassi, Target Canada recently announced they’re closing up shop entirely in the great white north. We hope this isn’t a harbinger of IndyCar’s future in Canada which already was dwindling, or of Target’s overall health as a company. This will be the twenty sixth year of their sponsorship of IndyCar and despite our disdain for Ganassi, for the good of the sport we’re hoping for a twenty seventh.

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Images from targetcorporate.com and huffingtonpost.ca

This season could go either way for Chip. Hell, it could even go both ways as their startlingly slow start last year eventually turned into some real momentum and a fast finish. There’s no doubt it’s a crucial period for Ganassi as funding reductions, car contraction and losing are suddenly realities. TCGR could be as sharp as the Ice Man’s stare in 2015, or as worthless as a Target Canada gift card. Suspecting the latter again for at least a portion of the schedule, we at IRR don’t mind watching Chip squirm for a while longer.

We’re open to your comments. What do you think?

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54 thoughts on “Which Chip’ll Turn Up? Or, Ganassi’s Two Sides

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