With the completion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway last month, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (CGRT) wrapped up the 2011 racing season. Overall, CGR teams claimed 11 victories across the three major touring series in which they compete (NSCS, IZOD IndyCar Series and GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series), highlighted by the organization’s 13th and 14th overall Championships.
Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon teamed for a third season as Target Chip Ganassi Racing (TCGR) drivers, and they quickly picked up where they left off in 2010. Franchitti drove to his third consecutive IZOD IndyCar Series Championship with four overall wins, while Dixon posted two wins and a third-place finish in the championship standings. It marked the third consecutive season that both Franchitti and Dixon finished inside the top-three in the championship standings. With the title, Team Target has now captured four consecutive IZOD IndyCar Championships (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) and nine open wheel championships (including 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003). The result not only gave Franchitti his fourth career title, but his fourth consecutive Championship, as he spent the 2008 season in NASCAR driving for Chip Ganassi. TCGR led in 12 of 16 races on the IZOD IndyCar Series season, leading 1,074 of 2,111 laps (51%).
The 2011 season marked Graham Rahal’s first season at Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing in the No. 38 Service Central Honda. In just 17 starts with his new team, he tallied six top-10s, and three top-fives. He had a total of three podium finishes at Sao Paulo (2nd), Indianapolis (3rd), and Milwaukee (2nd), completed 1,797 of 2,111 laps (85.1%), led 29 laps and finished ninth in the season standings.
Rookie driver Charlie Kimball completed his season at Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing in the No. 83 Novo Nordisk Honda looking to log laps and gain experience. He did both, as he tallied two top-10s with a best start of seventh coming at Twin Ring Motegi. His best finish came at New Hampshire where he drove to a ninth-place finish. He completed 1,791 of 2,111 laps run (84.8%) and finished 19th in the championship.
Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas spent their fourth year as TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates co-drivers in 2011. The duo drove to the 2011 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Championship with five victories – the first coming at the Rolex 24 At Daytona with co-drivers Rahal and Joey Hand. It marked the second consecutive championship title for the team, and third in four years (2008, 2010, 2011). The GRAND-AM team has now won five championships (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011) and finished second three times in eight years of competition.
The 2011 campaign was the fifth full-time season for Juan Pablo Montoya in the NSCS and his third season with primary sponsor Target. The Colombian-born driver finished the season 21st in the point standings. After a crew chief change at the end of July, Team Target closed the season with two Coors Light Pole awards, two top-five and eight top-10 finishes. Montoya had zero DNF’s (did not finish) and had the highest number of laps run out of any driver with 10,593 (or 99%) – including all 12 of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup contenders. Montoya’s career numbers now total two wins, seven poles, 20 top-five and 49 top-10 finishes in 181 NSCS career starts.
Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/McDonald’s Chevrolet completed the 2011 season with one pole, two top-five and four top-10 finishes. McMurray captured the Coors Light Pole award at Martinsville Speedway in his 300th career NSCS start. The No. 1 team also defended its 2010 Brickyard 400 victory with a fourth-place finish at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The other top-five finish for the Joplin, Missouri native came during the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway. McMurray finished 27th in the 2011 NSCS final standings. Overall McMurray has eight poles, six wins, 41 top-five and 96 top-10 finishes in 330 NSCS career starts.
2011Notes of Interest:
Off to a Slam of a Start: CGRT began the season with its fourth win in the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona, giving team owner Chip Ganassi what became coined as the “Chip Slam” of motor racing by winning four major motorsports events in a 12-month period with victories in the 2010 Daytona 500, 2010 Indianapolis 500, 2010 Brickyard 400 and the 2011 Rolex 24 At Daytona. CGRT concluded 2011 with two championships in the same season for the third time (2008, 2010, 2011) by winning the IZOD IndyCar Series and GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series titles.
Four in a Row, Part 2: TCGR captured four consecutive IZOD IndyCar Championships (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) for the second time in history (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999) and now have nine open wheel championships overall (including 2003). Since 1994, only Hendrick Motorsports (NASCAR) has more major motorsports titles with 10. TCGR (INDYCAR) has nine. Scuderia Ferrari (F1) is next with 8.
2011 By the Numbers: CGRT’s 11-win breakdown: INDYCAR - six and GRAND-AM - five. The GRAND-AM and INDYCAR titles were the 13th and 14th for CGRT (INDYCAR – nine and GRAND-AM – five). CGRT now boasts 145 total wins (1990-2010): 86 - Indy car, 37 - GRAND-AM, 10 - Sprint Cup, six – Nationwide and six – ARCA.
Franchitti Reaches Rarified Indy car Air: Franchitti moved into a tie for second place on the all-time list for most Indy car racing Championships (A.J. Foyt – seven and Franchitti/Mario Andretti/Sebastien Bourdais – four). He is only the third driver in Indy car racing history to ever win at least three titles in a row (Ted Horn: 1946, 1947, 1948 and Sebastien Bourdais: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007).
Target Team’s Top Two: Since 2007, Franchitti and Dixon are the only two drivers to win the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship. Dixon also claimed the 2011 A.J. Foyt Oval Championship Trophy for performance on oval tracks. Team Target is the only team to have won the award, which began in 2010 (won by Franchitti).
GRAND-AM Team Untouchable: For the fourth time in eight seasons (2006, 2008, 2010, 2011) the GRAND-AM team won five or more races in a single season (won Team Championship all four years). It was the third time the team won both the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Team Championship in the same year (2006, 2008, 2011). They continue to be the most successful team in series history with 37 victories.
About Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, Inc.
Chip Ganassi has been a fixture in the auto racing industry for over 25 years and is considered one of the most successful as well as innovative owners the sport has anywhere in the world. Today his teams include four in the IZOD IndyCar Series, two cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and one Daytona Prototype in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. Overall his teams have 14 championships and 145 victories, including three Indianapolis 500s, a Daytona 500, a Brickyard 400 and four Rolex 24 At Daytonas. Ganassi boasts state-of-the-art race shop facilities in Indianapolis and Brownsburg, Ind. and Concord, N.C., with a corporate office in Pittsburgh, Penn.