IZOD IndyCar Series championship owner Chip Ganassi announced the formation of a new two-car "satellite" team for young up-and-coming American racers Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball at a press conference in Indianapolis today.
Although owned by Ganassi, the satellite operation will remain independent of the existing Target Chip Ganassi Racing effort that fields cars for 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti and teammate Scott Dixon. The two new IndyCar teams will be operated out of drag racing legend Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's racing facility in Brownsburg, Indiana. Prudhomme does not have an ownership stake in either team.
Ganassi unveiled Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing for Rahal which will be sponsored by TBC Retail Group. Rahal will drive the No. 38 Service Central Dallara/Honda in 2011. In October, TBC Retail Group announced it inked a multi-year spokesperson and sponsorship association with Rahal to represent its family of tire and automotive retail brands, which include; Service Central®, Tire Kingdom®, NTB-National Tire and Battery®, Merchant’s Tire and Auto Centers® and Big O Tires®.
At just age 21, Rahal has made 60 starts in the top levels of American open wheel racing. He has one win, two poles, 12 top-five and 32 top-10 finishes, with 59 laps led.
Ganassi also announced the formation of Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing that will field cars for Firestone Indy Lights graduate Kimball. Kimball will drive the No. 83 Novo Nordisk IndyCar Series entry in 2011.
Novo Nordisk has sponsored Kimball since he entered the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system in the 2009 season, and the partnership between Novo Nordisk and CGR makes him the first driver from the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights Series to move up to the top level of IndyCar competition with a full-season sponsorship.
Graham Rahal, Driver, Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing: "This is the kind of opportunity every driver dreams of. I have been working diligently, specifically over the past several months, to get into one of Chip’s Indy cars, and now that dream has become a reality with the help of Service Central, and many others. Chip’s 2010 season was definitely one for the ages – 19 wins, Indianapolis (twice), Daytona, another IndyCar Series Championship, I could go on and on– but like Chip often says, I’m looking forward to the next race, which is in St. Petersburg in March. I’m thrilled to be a part of this great organization and look forward to making the most out of this opportunity."
Charlie Kimball, Driver, Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing: "I am honored to join Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing and excited to be moving up to the IZOD IndyCar Series. This is a dream come true and I am very proud to work with Novo Nordisk and continue to spread the message that diabetes does not have to slow you down."
Orland Wolford, CEO, TBC Retail Group, Service Central: "It’s an excellent opportunity for us to start a new team and showcase our brands; Service Central, Tire Kingdom, NTB, Big O Tires and Merchants Tire. We’re thrilled to be a part of Chip Ganassi’s team. His tenacious drive to win championships and reputation for building some of the best teams in auto sports match our drive and commitment to be the best in our industry. We feel the IZOD IndyCar Series has unmatched momentum heading into the future, and having an American driver like Graham competing for wins in a Service Central-sponsored Ganassi car is sure to create considerable excitement in 2011."
Camille Lee, Vice President of Diabetes Marketing, Novo Nordisk: "We have sponsored Charlie for the past two seasons in the Firestone Indy Lights Series and seen his development not only as a race car driver, but also as a role model to thousands of people with diabetes. We are excited to join Chip and the entire Ganassi organization to ensure Charlie's success not only on the race track, but also with Novo Nordisk to prove that diabetes does not have get in the way of your dreams."
Chip Ganassi, Owner, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams: "It’s no secret that we’re always looking for ways to get better and expand our racing programs. Finding new ways to get better or go faster is what this business is all about, really. Graham has shown us all over the past few years that he can be a frontrunner in the IZOD IndyCar Series, and I welcome both he and Service Central to our racing program for 2011. This should create some excitement for the series both on and off the track.
"Many don't realize this, but we have had a relationship with Charlie for a number of years now. I have been keeping close tabs on him and his successes in racing from afar for a while now - whether he was racing in Formula 3 in Europe, or running in the Firestone Indy Lights Series the past few seasons. We're excited to have the opportunity to turn this longstanding relationship into a reality with Charlie and Novo Nordisk."