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Chip Ganassi Biography

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 two cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, two in the IZOD IndyCar Series and one Daytona Prototype in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Cars Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.

Throughout Ganassi’s career as an owner he has continued to raise the innovation bar with a constant search for a better way to do things. He is recognized as one of the first team owners to create both hugely successful driver and pit crew development programs. Ganassi was one of the first to create an advanced research and development group that supports all of his race programs. He also created an in-depth Information Technology partnership with some of his technology sponsors (Microsoft, Dell, EMC, Syntel and Numara) to best utilize their expertise in order to benefit the race program. Whether it is to more efficiently develop young drivers or to better prepare his cars for the track, Ganassi has been at the forefront of many of the innovations that the sport of auto racing has seen over the last two decades. 

Last season Ganassi saw his five-car organization pick up 12 wins, a second consecutive IZOD IndyCar Series Championship and a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Dario Franchitti walked away with the IndyCar Series Championship and five overall wins, while his Target teammate Scott Dixon finished second in the points after also finishing with five wins. It was the first time that Ganassi’s famed IndyCar program ever finished 1-2 in the season standings. It also gave him back-to-back titles after Dixon won the championship in 2008. In addition, Juan Pablo Montoya and his No. 42 Target Chevrolet made the team’s first appearance in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. On the strength of four consecutive top-five finishes at the start of the Chase, Montoya went on to finish the season in the eighth position – the highest for Target since joining the NASCAR ranks in 2002. Lastly, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas finished the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season in second place with two wins to their credit. 

Following a strong career as a driver, Chip Ganassi created his own one-car IndyCar team in 1990 and established a partnership with a new sponsor – Target.  Success has been no stranger to Ganassi as a team owner, his open wheel teams have amassed seven championships and 74 wins while overall his teams can claim 10 championships and  115 wins; his NASCAR teams have 12 victories, one trip to The Chase and three "Rookie of the Year" titles. Ganassi also boasts two state-of-the-art race shop facilities in Indianapolis and Concord, N.C., and a corporate office in Pittsburgh, Penn.

Ganassi solidified his place in open wheel racing history, becoming the first owner to lead his team to four consecutive championships with Jimmy Vasser (1996), Alex Zanardi (1997-98) and then with rookie Juan Pablo Montoya's championship in 1999.  In 2000, Montoya blew away the competition in the Indianapolis 500, claiming the title for his team. In 2003, following a switch from the CART Series to the Indy Racing League, Ganassi and Dixon proved they could meet the challenge of a new series and new competition by capturing the 2003 IZOD IndyCar Series Championship.  Dixon would again win the IndyCar Series Championship in 2008 on the strength of a record-tying six wins and his first Indianapolis 500 triumph.

After Ganassi’s majority acquisition of Team SABCO from Felix Sabates began his involvement with NASCAR in 2001, Sterling Marlin and the No. 40 team gave him his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory, and the team remained in the top 10 in driver points all season long before finishing third in the standings.

In 2003, Ganassi became the first owner to have three drivers claim "Rookie of the Year" honors in stock car racing in the same season with Jamie McMurray in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, David Stremme in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Reed Sorenson in the ASA Series.

In 2004, Ganassi expanded his racing team to include two Daytona Prototype entries in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and four more talented drivers. In keeping with Ganassi Racing's tradition of excellence, veteran drivers Pruett and Max Papis won the GRAND-AM Rolex Series Championship with 11 pole positions and four wins in 12 races in their very first season of competition. The team recently made history with an unprecedented run of three straight Rolex 24 At Daytona wins from 2006-2008, and in six full seasons has won three championships– never finishing lower than second place overall.

In November 2008 two of auto racing’s biggest names – Earnhardt and Ganassi – launched a multi-car race team through the combination of the motorsports operations of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Combined, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates now sports a history that includes six NASCAR championships, over 120 victories, 80 pole positions, over 200 top-fives and three Daytona 500 crowns.

In 2010, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will sport a new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series lineup with McMurray returning as the driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet alongside Juan Pablo Montoya in the No.42 Target Chevrolet. This, coupled with Target Chip Ganassi Racing returning with back-to-back IndyCar champs Dixon and Franchitti and the return of Pruett and Rojas to the Daytona Prototype, will certainly help position Chip Ganassi Racing as a contender on all fronts.

Ganassi's interests do not lie solely in auto racing. He has expanded his horizons to include several other sporting and business pursuits. The 1982 Duquesne University graduate was formerly part owner of his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates and is currently vice president of the FRG Group, a Pittsburgh holding company with interests in telecommunications and manufacturing. Ganassi is also a supporter and promoter of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, to which his team has donated nearly half a million dollars over the years.

Source: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Website