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Ganassi and Penske’s Indy Car Rivalry Continues in 2023

There are and have been many sports rivalries over the years, ranging from the Giants and Dodgers in Baseball to the Lakers and Celtics in Basketball. Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske are two rival giants in racing. The two racing teams have dominated Indy Car in recent years. They have won numerous races and championships, and Penske in particular has established a legacy at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Ganassi and Penske Dominate Indy Car Championship

Chip Ganassi (left) and Roger Penske (right). Credited to this NBC Sports article by Nate Ryan.

The 2023 Indy Car Series is dominated by Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske in the rankings. These two teams run all of the top five drivers in this season. Alex Palou, with a clear lead at 513 points, drives for Chip Ganassi. Josef Newgarden of Penske is behind him with 429. Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi has 387 points. Scot McLaughlin of Penske has 371. The fifth-place driver is Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi with 357. These rankings are as of the finish of the Music City Grand Prix in Nashville, Tennessee. The driver with the highest score will secure victory in the 2023 championship.

Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske have been leading the pack in terms of IndyCar championship victories for years. Every champion since 2013 has been with one or the other of the two teams when they received the ring. Scott Dixon of Ganassi won in 2013, 2015, 2018, and 2020. Will Power of Penske won in 2014 and 2022. Simon Pagenaud of Penske won in 2016. Josef Newgarden of Penske won in 2017 and 2019. Alex Palou of Ganassi won in 2021.

Indy 500 Performance of Ganassi and Penske

Penske’s Josef Newgarden celebrating 2023 Indy 500 win. Credited to this NTT Indy Car article by Paul Kelly.

These two teams have also performed well in recent Indianapolis 500 races. Penske driver Juan Pablo Montoya won in 2015. Next came Will Power in 2018, and then Simon Pagenaud in 2019, both with Penske. Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi won the Indy 500 in 2022.

Penske has added to its laurels from this famed racetrack after Newgarden won this year’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This was the Nashville, Tennessee native’s first Indy 500 win. In his victory speech, Josef Newgarden was evidently overwhelmed by his achievement.

“I’ve had the privilege of being able to run here for twelve years,” Newgarden stated, “and […] to be able to finally realize it is just an amazing dream.”

He also described the atmosphere of racing with Team Penske.

“It’s got to be one of the most amazing places I’ve every worked in racing,” the driver claimed, “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had, it’s the most deep friendships I’ve ever created, and […] we really care about going to work together and trying to push each other to get the most out of what we do every single day.”

Newgarden also thanked the owner of Team Penske, Roger Penske, and his wife Kathy Penske.

“Roger and Kathy, thank you so much for your commitment to our sport,” he said, “and for being, I think, the greatest stewards that could possibly be for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

Newgarden then praised Tim Cindric, Team Penske’s President.

“He has looked out for me incredibly well,” he asserted, “He has helped me win so many races. […] These are victories that the team puts me into position to win, and I just seal the deal.”

Marcus Ericsson of Ganassi Racing, who won the 2022 Indy 500, placed second this year.

Indy Car History of Ganassi and Penske

Ganassi’s Marcus Ericsson celebrating 2022 Indy 500 win. Credited to this Indy Star article by Nathan Brown.

According to Chip Ganassi Racing, the former racer Chip Ganassi established his team in 1990 as a single-car operation with Target as a sponsor, one of the most long-lived partnerships in motorsports. His team has expanded, and his drivers “have amassed 14 championships and over 100 wins” across more than three decades. The team has also won five Indy 500 races.

Roger Penske left his career as a racer in 1965, going into business and eventually running other racers. He and the driver Mark Donohue established Team Penske in Indy Car in 1968. The latter became the first Penske driver to win the Indy 500 in 1972 “with an average speed that would remain the race record for a dozen years.” Team Penske has racked up 16 championships in Indy Car, as well as over 200 victories on the track. Penske drivers have also won 19 Indy 500 races, including Newgarden’s recent victory.

Penske’s Indy Car Legacy and Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Penske’s Newgarden and Ganassi’s Ericsson’s finishing positions (first and second respectively). Credited to this Indy Star article.

Roger Penske purchased the NTT Indy Car Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2019. In an interview with NASCAR America in November that year, he explained his reasoning.

“Six weeks ago, I probably wasn’t even thinking about it,” he acknowledged; however, the opportunity came up to acquire it from Hulman & Co.

“And obviously, with our background here, and understanding motorsports, and having been a track owner for many years […], it was the perfect opportunity for us,” Penske continued, noting how his visit to Indianapolis in 1951 as a teenager had been formative in his decision to go into the racing business.

He also claimed that Indianapolis helped to create Team Penske’s brand in Indy Car. As such, the chance to acquire the racetrack and continue its legacy was important for him.

Penske was asked about a potential conflict of interest due to his ownership of Team Penske. In response, he made it clear that he would step back from running his racing team to avoid any such issue.

“I would expect that today going forward on the Indy Car side, I won’t be strategizing with any of the drivers,” he explained.

“Is this purchase, and this business deal for you, one of the most meaningful business deals that you’ve ever put together?” one of the interviewers asked.

“There’s no question about it,” Penske replied, “These are the opportunities, fortunately, that I’ve been in a position to be able to accept and [sic] invest in.”

Tim Cindric has continued in his role as President of Team Penske, which he assumed in 1999. He is responsible for managing the company and racing team. The rivalry between the teams of Ganassi and Penske has continued as strongly as ever despite Roger Penske turning his attention to Indianapolis and the Series.

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