Connect with us
Mr. Magic Car Wash


OPINION – Chip Ganassi, Scott Dixon and Mike Hull’s leadership put focus back on-track in Toronto



Penske Entertainment: Chris Owens

(Pittsburgh Racing Now) – In a tumultuous past week where Chip Ganassi Racing was making more headlines off-track, six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Scott Dixon put the focus right where his team owner wanted it – on-track, and added the cherry on top by putting the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda in victory lane.

Dixon picked up his 52nd career victory winning Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto on the streets around Exhibition Place, beating Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta.

The victory tied Dixon with motorsports legend Mario Andretti for second place on the all-time INDYCAR win list.  51-of those 52-wins, and all 6 of Dixon’s Championships, came in CGR machines.  Dixon has been driving for Ganassi for 21-years.

Defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Alex Palou won his title in his first season with Ganassi, so when the team announced last Tuesday afternoon that they were exercising their option for the 2023 season, it came as no surprise.

What did come as a surprise was Palou taking to social media Tuesday evening to say that he informed the team that he was leaving after the 2022 season.  Moments later it turned into a soap opera when McLaren Racing announced they signed Palou for 2023, but didn’t specify which series he would be competing.

When the team arrived in Toronto all eyes, microphones and cameras were on the 14-time Champions but the venerable team owner set the tone early.

“I think Chip was extremely calm,” recalled Dixon. “I think that’s real leadership. I think somebody’s kind of throwing their toys out of the cart, running around, that’s going to be a different reaction for everybody to see. He’s very calm.”

Someone else who is very calm is Dixon, who put everything into perspective telling Racer “if you’re going to have an example of how not to go about things, this is 100 percent how you would do it.”

Three Rivers Karting

“For me, honesty is key, man. Loyalty as well,” he said. “You know, it’s very easy in this community – it’s a small community – to change how you’re looked upon or respected quite quickly. Personal view for myself and how I would have done this? It wouldn’t be like this.”

Dixon added, “all my deals with Chip have been very straightforward. You know, you kind of sit down have a chat, [talk about] what everybody’s looking at doing. Even when I’ve had options [presented by other teams], I’ve gone to them and said, ‘Hey, these are my options. What should we do?’”.

Palou apparently didn’t take that route. I don’t personally know if did but maybe he should’ve talked to Dixon, who McLaren took a run at a few years ago, or Jimmie Johnson, who could drive for any team, in any series, but is with CGR.  How about talking to Dario Franchitti?  Franchitti drove for Andretti Autosport before joining CGR where he won two Indy 500’s and three Championships for Ganassi prior to retiring.  That’s decades of experience to draw from.

I bet CGR teammate Marcus Ericsson, who was dumped by Arrow McLaren SP after only one season, James Hinchcliffe and Oliver Askew would’ve been able to give Palou some perspective on his possible future employer.

One key ingredient to success is consistency.  Take the Pittsburgh Steelers for example. The Steelers have three head coaches since 1969 and have won 6-Super Bowls.  The Bill Belichick/Tom Brady pairing yielded 6-rings.  There’s that consistency again.

The consistency at CGR starts at the top with Managing Director Mike Hull, who’s strong and steady hand are the definition of leadership.  People like Hull, Dixon and so many other talented individuals have been keys to Ganassi’s consistency, which has to play a large part in the success of the team over their 30+ year history, with the team owner right at the top.

“I think it was a great calmness and a sternness that he had that kind of clears out the noise that’s out there,” said Dixon.

Last week’s drama highlights that racing is a business, but I can’t help but think of the old adage ‘the grass isn’t always greener’.  I started covering Chip Ganassi’s team in the late 90’s and have seen managers, drivers, crew members, etc. leave the team.  The team members that have stayed continue to reel off wins and Championships.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply


Josef Newgarden tops first INDYCAR practice as Laguna Seca



Penske Entertainment: James Black

MONTEREY, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden is starting INDYCAR Championship weekend off on the right pedal by leading the first NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice session on Friday.

Newgarden’s No. 2 Hitachi Chevy turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 11.4103 seconds (112.824 mph) around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course circuit with Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta second-quickest at 1:11:8266 (112.170) in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda.

“Yeah, just a tricky session,” noted Newgarden. “There was a lot of people going off, there was a lot of dirt on the track, so it was quite difficult to put it together. So not a very straightforward session. But I think very productive in a lot of ways. It’s not a lot of running, and you’re trying to make the most use of just a couple runs, and I felt like we did that, so I was happy about that.”

Championship-leader Will Power was 7th quickest, 1:11:9858 (111.922) in the No. 12 Verizon Chevy.  Power leads Newgarden and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon by 20-points heading into Sunday’s season finale.

“Tough track, man,” said Power. “Very low grip. You get one lap on tires, and they’re gone. It’s hard to get a read because the car changes so much over a run.”

Three Rivers Karting

Championship contender Marcus Ericsson was tenth fastest in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda at 1:12:0803 (111.775) and trails Power by ??-points in the title fight.

“I’m hoping it’s going to be a high-deg (tire degradation) race, and it seems to be that way,” said Ericsson. “Usually our team and myself from my experience, we’re usually pretty good at that. Yeah, the tires seemed to degrade quite quickly here. It was the same in the test and the same today in practice.”

Last weekend’s winner Scott McLaughlin was next in line with a 1:12:0877 (111.764). McLaughlin has an outside shot at the title as he sits ??-points behind Power.

Dixon, the six-time series Champion, was 17th in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda at 1:12:3911 (111.295) despite a team test at the track a few weeks ago.

“It’s going to be a pretty high-deg  race, man,” said Dixon, who can tie INDYCAR Legend A.J. Foyt for all-time Championships with a seventh.

Continue Reading


Determined drive by Scott Dixon in Portland earns podium and shot at 7th Championship



Penske Entertainment: James Black

PORTLAND, OR (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is in the fight for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship after a third place finish in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland.

Dixon entered the race in third-place in the Championship fight, 14-points behind Team Penske’s Will Power and 11-points behind Power’s teammate Josef Newgarden.  Dixon leaves Portland tied with Newgarden but Power finished ahead of both and now sits 20-points ahead going into the season finale on Sunday at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca.

“Yeah, you know, still in it,” said Dixon. “That’s all that we can hope for.”

Dixon started the race from the 16th position after failing to advance out of the first round of knockout-style qualifying on Saturday.  Qualifying has been a bit of an ‘Achilles heel’ for the No. 9 this season.

“We’ve got to work on qualifying and stop making it so difficult on us,” reflected Dixon, who gained more positions (+13) than anyone in the field from the start to finish of the race. “The car was fantastic in Q1 on the box. Didn’t expect too much of a change and thought we would have converted easy and didn’t even make it. We have to stop doing these most improved days, for sure. It’s not that much fun.”

Dixon opened the race on the less-grippy Firestone primary tires while the majority of those starting ahead of him started on the stickier Firestone alternate tires and quickly moved up a couple of spots before being one of the first to come to pit road for his first pit stop on Lap 13.

Dixon’s No. 9 ‘Wolfpack’ crew swapped out the primary tires for the alternate tires, topped the PNC Bank Honda off with fuel and sent the six-time series Champion back out into the fight where he put his foot down and continued to gain positions as various strategies started playing out.

Dixon’s second to last pit-stop saw his crew put on used alternate Firestones, setting him up for new alternate tires for his final pit stop.  Dixon was chasing Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi for fifth place when CGR Managing Director and Dixon’s strategist Mike Hull called him to pit road for the last time.

“We had to use a lot of overtake early on, so that definitely changed things up, I think, for the strategy towards the final five there,” said Dixon. “Had a tricky moment with the 10 car coming in front of us in the pit, which kind of screwed us a bit as well, and lost a position that we should have got on Rossi, which was frustrating.”

Three Rivers Karting

Dixon’s frustration was short-lived as the caution came out on Lap 84 when Rinus VeeKay misjudged a pass on Dixon’s teammate Jimmie Johnson, pinching the No. 48 Carvana Honda into the wall ending Johnson’s day.

The 4-lap caution period set-up a restart with Scott McLaughlin leading Power, Pato O’Ward, Newgarden, Rossi and Dixon as the green flag dropped.  McLaughlin got a great start and Power settled in behind his teammate when O’Ward made an ambitious move trying to pass Power in Turn 1. It didn’t work.

“Yeah, he sent it straight into me,” Power explained. “I left as much room as I could. Inside, inside, and I kept going further, and, bam, he hit me over the curve. I didn’t expect it from Pato, though. He is usually a pretty good racer, pretty smart racer. He was probably needing to win the race to have a shot at the championship, so he probably just went a little bit too far.”

Turn 1 usually produces some memorable highlights at Portland and this restart was no different as right behind the Power/O’Ward tussle, Newgarden and Rossi got together opening the door for Dixon, who didn’t hesitate to take advantage.

“I think when I saw Josef break I was, like, ‘Wow, I’m not sure if he is going to make the corner,'” said Dixon. “He did all that he could to make the corner, but put him at a weird angle, and that, obviously, offset him and Rossi because Rossi had a great run on him out of 12 into turn one. Then, got a great exit.”

Dixon turned hard left, avoided that calamity, and carried the momentum through the turn and set his sights on O’Ward, who was still gaining speed after hitting Power and made a reactionary move to Dixon’s passing attempt, which is a violation of INDYCAR rules.

“I got a run on Pato, and he put a pretty big block on, and a lap later IndyCar called that, and I was able to get past, which thankfully I think the front three, we pulled a ten-second gap on the next pack where we pulled away really quickly,” said Dixon. “It was a great restart. Something that definitely helped us on the points side, and we’ll take what we can.”

Dixon set his sights on Power and was able to get within a second of the No. 12 Chevy but wasn’t able to challenge for the second spot on the podium.

“We did as much as we could today,” said Dixon.  “All in all, I think the team did a great job today. Yeah, we’ll see. See what comes next week. I think it’s pretty cool that we don’t need any resets or any chase championships or anything like that. It always comes down to the wire in the INDYCAR Series.”

Continue Reading


Ganassi’s Alex Palou won’t repeat as INDYCAR Champion



Chip Ganassi Racing

PORTLAND, OR (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou’s hopes of repeating as NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion is over after Palou was mathematically eliminated after his 12th-place finish in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland.

Palou stated the race in the fourth position on Firestone alternate red sidewall tires and ran in the Top 5 through the first stint of the race.  Palou however radioed the No. 10 Ridgeline Lubricants crew during the second stint that something was wrong with the rear of the car.  Palou was on the less-grippy, black sidewall Firestone tires.

Three Rivers Karting

“Starting fourth, we were running okay in the beginning and then lost a bit of pace,” said Palou. “We’ll check on what went on today and recover next week in Laguna. We still have one race to go, and we will try to win it.”

Palou’s sits 66-points behind championship leader Will Power going into the season finale next Sunday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Palou’s teammates Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson remain in the title fight with Dixon tied for second place, 20-points behind Power and Ericsson 39-points out of the top spot.

Continue Reading