Chip Ganassi says that Ryan Briscoe was the best possible fit for the vacant spot in his 2014 IndyCar lineup, after Tony Kanaan was promoted to replace the retired Dario Franchitti.
Kanaan had originally been signed to drive the team’s No. 8 car, alongside Charlie Kimball, before being promoted to Ganassi’s frontline pairing with Scott Dixon, driving the storied No. 10 entry formerly occupied by Franchitti.
Prior to his move into the Target-branded car, Kanaan’s entry was set to be backed by NTT Data, which also sponsored the fourth car driven for the team by Briscoe in this year’s Indianapolis 500 (ABOVE).
Ganassi said this existing relationship, coupled with Australian Briscoe’s extensive IndyCar experience, made him a natural choice for the seat.
“We had a lot of drivers, a lot of young talent, a lot of veteran drivers call us that were interested in the drive,” Ganassi said. “We just felt with the history of NTT, it made a better fit with Ryan. Ryan was the best fit possible.
“His experience was a little bit more than most out there. That goes a long way, with the schedule we’re looking at next year.”
Although several drivers were linked to the seat, including current Formula 1 free agent Paul di Resta, Ganassi had earlier indicated that IndyCar experience was a priority due to a condensed 2014 schedule and relative lack of testing opportunities. He also said that Franchitti had been consulted during the selection process.
“We were all on the phone with Dario. He’s going to stay involved with the team,” Ganassi noted. “He wants to know when we’re testing, wants to be there to help out. So we’re ready to go. He couldn’t be more proud of the talent on this team also. He looks forward to being a part of it continuing forward.
“So, it’s kind of an interesting thing to have his best friend get in his seat, and Tony’s seat that he vacated filled by a guy our team has a lot of history with. I was with Ryan last night and he was talking about being a veteran IndyCar driver. I want to remind him, when he first came over to the States, he was a [F1] test driver for Toyota. He came over to drive for us at Phoenix, first time in an IndyCar. So, yeah, it’s great to have a veteran like that.”