Q. As a team owner, you've been involved with PPG as the series sponsor and then later with FedEx. This year IZOD was the series sponsor for the IndyCar Series for the first time. If you could talk a little bit about how they elevated the promotion and the awareness of the sport this season in their first year as a series sponsor?
CHIP GANASSI: Well, I tell you, that is a good question. It started off with seeing ads for the IndyCar Series during the NFL playoff season last year. I remember watching ads on some pretty big networks that had some pretty big events on them. There was IZOD in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
I thought it was pretty interesting that they came out of the blocks really hard and kept it going throughout the year, exposing IndyCar racing to a different crowd.
Let's face it... we have some core fans that will be core fans for a long time. But I think we all agree that IndyCar racing needs to be taken to some new fans and just exposed to people. I think that's what IZOD's done a great job of. Whether it was these events in New York and Boston and L.A., Indianapolis, they're bringing in people that expose to different types of media, different types of people.
There are a lot of people who, when exposed to motorsport and particularly IndyCar racing, when they're exposed to it, you find out a lot more about them. They have a keen interest in it... they have a story to tell about the Indy 500 or something to tell them and they're a fan of it.
I think we're very lucky to have IZOD. I think they did a great job for their first year and certainly exposing us to some new types of people.
Q. As a car owner, I know it wasn't a perfect year, but in your mind could it have gotten any better?
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, I guess. You could sit there and argue that my guys are 14th or 15th in NASCAR points or so, so we didn't make the Chase. I could sit there and nitpick the season.
We had a terrible race this past weekend in Fontana, Calif., after being so promising in qualifying. I could sit there and nitpick little things and reasons, but the fact of the matter is it's been a great year. It would be very hard to have anything that will turn it into a not so good year. Practically nothing can happen to turn it into a bad year.
I say practically nothing, so, obviously we – there are ups and downs in all forms of things you do in life. I'm sitting here right now celebrating a championship with Dario on one hand. On the other hand, I have my team manager in Indianapolis today with his son who is comatose right now from a crash (Steve Hmiel, whose son Shane was injured in a USAC racing accident). You know, it's an everyday thing. When you're in this business every day, it's filled with ups and downs.
Q. There are several big named free agents out there in the IndyCar Series, Tony Kanaan and Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter-Reay among the biggest. Are you interested in expanding your team to a three-car operation? Do you feel the need to do that, or are you worried about maybe upsetting chemistry?
CHIP GANASSI: First of all, there are some great free agents out there. None, I think, as great as the drivers I have, but nonetheless there are some great free agents out there who are available. I'm perfectly happy with the two guys I have whether these free agents became available last week, last month or six months ago. I'm perfectly happy with the guys I have. And I doubt very much that I would do anything to dilute our team right now. I wouldn't think a third car is in the cards at Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Having said all that, I would be perfectly happy to have a well-funded development team of some younger guys who are on their way up and have some potential down the road if the proper sponsorship could be found. Not necessarily under the roof of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, but I think in terms of a development team, we could easily compete with a lot of these teams out there now running less than a total budget for a well-funded, front-running car.
I think if done right, that could add to Target Chip Ganassi Racing down the road three or four years or something. The things you do now could possibly augment your team for the future. Again, having said that, it's not something that's going to make or break our organization. If our organization looks exactly the same a year from now as it does today, it won't bother me a bit.