The Chip Ganassi Racing team has made a number of changes to its championship-winning NTT IndyCar Series program in preparation for its quest to win three consecutive titles.
Changes start with six-time champion Scott Dixon and the leader of his vaunted Wolf Pack pit crew as crew chief and fellow New Zealander Blair Julian (shown above) has been promoted to a new managerial role within CGR.
“Blair is moving to a new role to be a team manager for the IndyCar operation as time goes forward,” CGR managing director Mike Hull told RACER. “So he’s in the process of moving to that role. Barry Wanser is still there, managing the team and everything on the competition side, but Blair’s doing a lot of the administrative tasks and learning how to do them now, which is a full-time job since we’re still running four cars.
“Because we had a lot of depth and strength on the IndyCar team, we’re able to do that. And looking toward the future with for future projects, we want to be able to work with Blair to be able to manage projects going forward, because we don’t have enough managers in training at the moment. So we have the ability to be able to move people around to do that.”
Stepping into the crew chief role for Dixon is a Tyler Rees, who Hull rates as one of the great success stories to come from within CGR’s Indianapolis operation.
“Tyler was the crew chief on one of our Ford GTs for four years, went to the back of Dixon’s car when that program ended, then went to Jimmie Johnson’s car, did a great job there, and you know, he actually started out with Dixon,” he said. “So he’s back with Dixon again.
“He started out as part of our workforce 18 years ago. I think he came to us through the Boy Scouts; he was an apprentice, an intern in the summer, and never left. That’s how he started. It’s a terrific story.”
Johnson also welcomes a new crew chief.
“Mike Le Gallic has been with us for a long time, and he’s moved to be the crew chief on the 48 car with Jimmie,” Hull said. “He was actually at the BAR Formula 1 team on Jacques Villeneuve’s car years ago, and then came back to America to work with Ray Everingham for quite a while and then came to us.”
Jamie Coates, Marcus Ericsson’s crew chief on the No. 8 Honda, has returned to CGR’s sports car program where he’ll lead the mechanical team on the new factory No. 02 Cadillac DPi-V.R entry. With Coates’ IMSA duties, Dave Pena has become Marcus Ericsson’s new crew chief on the No. 8 car.
“Dave is another one of our long-tenured team members who’s been with Dixon, been part of a lot of our success over the years, and we have confidence with Dave in the role,” Hull said. “Across the board, all of the new changes are a reflection of how Chip Ganassi Racing is never satisfied with people staying in the same job forever.
“So, we move some people around, like we do around this time every year. And we’re always looking for a few more good people haven’t hired.”