With Josef Newgarden making the move to Team Penske, and Alexander Rossi staying put at Andretti Autosport, many were wondering who the next domino to fall would be in the Verizon IndyCar Series. It turns out, it was Chip Ganassi.
Today his championship-winning IndyCar team announced that they would be leaving Chevrolet, and moving back to Honda, in what was described as a multi-year agreement.
Ganassi moved to Chevrolet in 2014, and saw plenty of success over the past three seasons, including winning the 2015 IndyCar championship with Scott Dixon. While Chevy has the better aero kit package on road and street courses, it is Honda that has the advantage at Indianapolis, where Chip’s team hasn’t won the Indy 500 since 2012.
“We’ve had a long and successful relationship with Honda over the years and we look forward to getting it back on track,” Ganassi said. “I feel a little like I am going home after having previously spent 12 years with them. Much of our organization’s success has been with Honda power in our cars so we are all very excited.”
President of Honda Performance Development, Art St. Cyr, stated “The Honda-Ganassi partnership has produced 77 race victories and multiple series championships in both CART and IndyCar including all three of Dario Franchitti’s Indianapolis 500 wins and Scott Dixon’s championship season in 2013.”
The move had been rumored for months, but it was still a somewhat surprising move for the organization, as Chevy teams have won 68 percent of the races and 74 percent of the poles since the start of the 2012 season. With the aero kit freeze next year, it won’t get any easier for the Honda-powered teams. Still, having Ganassi leading the way, things should improve for the rest of the Honda teams.
The money was likely a huge factor in this move, even at a legendary organization like Ganassi. With Target leaving Dixon’s car and funding in question for the No. 8 car, as well as Tony Kanaan’s situation, the team can surely use the money. The trickle-down effect will soon be felt.
After a dismal season with Andretti Autosport as their lead team in 2016, Honda now has one of the two best organizations in the series to work with. Speaking of Andretti, they too are under contract with Honda for next season. While there are a few Honda teams that could switch over to Chevrolet in 2017, they are not one of them.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing probably won’t be making the switch, as Graham Rahal has always had a close relationship with Honda. He’s also been their best performer the last couple of seasons. The three likely candidates are AJ Foyt Racing, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, and Dale Coyne Racing. With Takuma Sato likely being let go at Foyt, and Juan Montoya being rumored as a possible replacement there, it does make sense for them to move to Chevy.
In an already wild Silly Season for IndyCar, things just took an interesting twist.
That wasn’t the only surprising move of the day. Long time Indianapolis Star writer Curt Cavin is leaving the company to join the Verizon IndyCar Series as Vice President of Communications. Cavin will take his experience of more than three decades to Mike Kitchel’s already impressive Public Relations team.