Tony Kanaan will get a proper farewell tour after all. The popular Brazilian has always been a fan favorite, and today he announced his future plans to return to Chip Ganassi’s team. The fan-favorite will rejoin Ganassi’s lineup in the NTT IndyCar Series as he will race the No. 48 Honda for the four oval races next season, including the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 in May. In addition to Indianapolis, Kanaan will race the double-header at Texas, and the August 21 race at Gateway.
The tag-team of Kanaan and Jimmie Johnson will be an exciting storyline to watch next season, as they join Marcus Ericsson, Alex Palou, and six-time series champion Scott Dixon in Ganassi’s stable. Kanaan ran 67 races as a full-time driver for Ganassi from 2014 to 2017. His most recent victory came in the season finale in 2014 at Auto Club Speedway in the No. 10 Ganassi machine. The 2004 series champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner provides Ganassi with a solid veteran for the Month of May. The full press release from today is below.
[Chip Ganassi Racing Press Release]
Chip Ganassi Racing announced today an agreement with Indianapolis 500 Winner, NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion and 17-time race winner Tony Kanaan to a multi-year deal to pilot the No. 48 Honda entry for the four ovals on the calendar, complementing the 13 road and street course events being contested by seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson.
The move means that Kanaan, who counts an Indy 500 win among his 17 IndyCar victories, will rejoin the team for which he raced from 2014-2017 alongside Johnson, former teammate and six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson and CGR newcomer Alex Palou.
Longtime CGR and Kanaan partner NTT DATA along with Bryant — also a longtime sponsor of Kanaan and former sponsor of the Ganassi team — return to CGR and will both have primary paint schemes as well as associate-level relationships on the No. 48 Honda and other CGR entries that will soon be announced.
“It’s hard to express in words how excited I am about this announcement. When Chip and I first started to talk about the opportunity to drive the ovals and share the No. 48 with Jimmie Johnson I couldn’t imagine that we would reach an agreement this fast,” Kanaan said. “Chip Ganassi Racing is at the pinnacle of motorsports in North America and being able to be part of the program once again with such great drivers in their line-up is a dream come true. I’ve also been very fortunate to enjoy great relationships with my sponsors throughout my career and having companies like Bryant and NTT DATA supporting me once again is a testament to that. Both Bryant and NTT DATA have been with me through different teams, wins and even life events. Being able to continue to represent these companies is truly an honor.”
Chip Ganassi is excited to have Kanaan back in the fold. “As the Indy car driver market trends younger and younger, experience is something that cannot be taught — especially at the Indianapolis 500. There is no one more experienced in the paddock than Tony, and when we needed the right fit for rounding out our oval program, it was clear he was the right choice. We are very familiar with NTT DATA and Bryant over the years and are excited to have both companies back with this program. Tony also knows our team, he knows our system and he knows our drivers. We expect the combination of him and Jimmie to give us the one-two punch we’re looking for in the No. 48.”
NTT Data will return to Chip Ganassi Racing in 2021 in a number of new and revised involvements with the reigning IndyCar Series champions. NTT also confirmed its return as title sponsor for the IndyCar Series in 2021.
“NTT DATA has been and will continue to be a big part of who our company is, and what we represent as an organization,” Chip Ganassi said. “Their involvement with our racing programs, from both a technology and business standpoint, has enabled us to deliver results on the track with multiple championships and race wins over the past eight years. Key relationships like this give us the ability to continue to push forward and achieve our goals.”