Chip Ganassi Racing is close to reaching a major milestone after clinching its 199th victory last weekend at the FIA World Endurance Championship held in China (above). Although the 2017 racing season is nearing its end, win No. 200 is within CGR’s grasp in the coming weeks.
“I really like it when we learn we’ve reached a new milestone, or have one in front of us, but I think I speak for every Chip Ganassi Racing employee when I say it isn’t something we think about in our day to day roles,” CGR managing director Mike Hull told RACER.
“When we’re on a timing stand, or on pit lane, we’re just trying to win the next one, and that’s because we’re an organization that Chip has built to win wherever we race. Because of that, the wins have piled up, and that’s what’s expected by each and every one of us. That’s not a statement based on ego. That’s based on work taking place in every building that houses one of our teams.”
Formed by the ex-driver in 1990 to field Eddie Cheever in the CART IndyCar Series, Ganassi has turned the open-wheel outfit into an American and international motor racing powerhouse.
Along with past programs in CART, the Indy Racing League, the Grand-Am Rolex Series, Indy Lights, and the Global Rallycross series, CGR’s core efforts today are found in the Verizon IndyCar Series, NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup Series and its second-tier Xfinity Series, IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and the WEC.
Its IndyCar and IMSA programs may have entered the offseason, but more chances to reach 200 wins exist in NASCAR where rounds at Phoenix and Homestead, and at Bahrain in the WEC, could see the threshold crossed prior to Thanksgiving.
Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell, who earned the 199th win with the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing outfit in Shanghai last weekend, are part of an impressive timeline that began in 1994 when Michael Andretti captured CGR’s maiden victory at Surfer’s Paradise in a Ford/Cosworth-powered Reynard Indy car.
Looking through the other significant victories, win No. 9 has become known as ‘The Pass’ thanks to Alex Zanardi’s bold move at Laguna Seca’s Corkscrew in 1996. Win No. 33 brought CGR its first taste of milk when Juan Pablo Montoya won the 2000 Indy 500. Sterling Marlin gave the team its first NASCAR win in 2001; it was team victory No. 38.
Win No. 54, taken by Scott Pruett and Max Papis in 2004 at Mont-Tremblant, was the first for CGR in Grand-Am sports car competition. Jamie McMurray put the team’s first Xfinity win on the board later in the year; it was CGR win No. 59. It’s first Rolex 24 at Daytona win – CGR’s 66th – came in 2006 with Dan Wheldon, Scott Dixon, and Casey Mears.
The team’s 100th win was fittingly produced by Dixon, CGR’s most successful and tenured driver, at the Nashville IndyCar race in 2008. Its new alliance with Ford to bring the GT model back to the sport delivered a historic first win for the Blue Oval, and No. 173 for CGR, at Monterey in 2016 with Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook.
The following month, more history was made as CGR earned its first GRC win with Steve Arpin at Daytona to take team win No. 175, and the next day, win No. 176 came with its maiden victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Sebastien Bourdais, Joey Hand, and Dirk Muller.
Whenever No. 200 comes, Hull plans on celebrate the staff members who made all the wins – and its 18 championships to date – possible through their dedication.
“The reality is, we want to break records on and off the track, and our people are pushed very hard to achieve that,” he said. “We have another milestone to reach, and it’s a testament to how hard everyone here works. That’s what it is.”