Posts Tagged ‘ Chip Ganassi ’

To start, I have a confession to make. I test drive cars with no intention of buying them. If it’s a sunny and warm Sunday afternoon and I have nothing better to do, I will haul myself up to a car dealership part of town (yep, you know the areas I’m talking about, where you can hit up six dealerships on the same road) and I will happily park my 2005 Ford Taurus (it’s the ugliest shade of green) and locate a salesperson.

I’ve driven BMW’s, Jeeps, Nissans, Honda Pilots (my secret first choice for when I’m a full-fledged soccer mom), and a variety of Cadillacs (always with the windows rolled down and rap music blasting). Yet for six years now, I’ve driven the very same Ford Taurus and have no immediate intentions of selling my “whip” and to much chagrin, I’m sure, from the many salespersons I’ve encountered on my Sunday drives.

My confession having been made, when I heard that Chip Ganassi drivers Scott Dixon and Jamie McMurray were about to swap rides for the day at Barber Motorsports Park I thought, wow, I get it. (Not sure what I’m talking about, read more on the swap here and check out video of the swap here.)

Scott Dixon and Jamie McMurray

Scott Dixon gives Jamie McMurray pointers on handling an IndyCar

What do I get? It’s that secret thrill of sliding into the driver’s seat of a car that isn’t yours and attempting to get comfortable in an awkward and different environment. How do the brakes feel? Can I go from zero to sixty (well, okay, in their case a bit faster) in under a minute? How do I shift? Do I need to adjust the mirrors?

Scott Dixon climbs into a Stock Car

Scott Dixon climbs into McMurray's stock car

These questions and more run through your mind when testing a different car but so does the important question, “Is this the kind of car I can see myself in for years to come.” For Dixon and McMurray, it’s no different. The question, which they may joke about after getting out of the cars, still surfaces in a far corner of their mind. In racing, it does happen. Drivers go from open-wheel racing to stock cars and back again. In even some cases, such as Danica Patrick, both.

Jamie McMurray and Scott Dixon at Talladega

Jamie McMurrary and Scott Dixon pose together at Barber

Perhaps the drivers emerged the same way I did when I test drove a Subaru. It was great, handled well but I could not picture myself taking on the lifestyle decision that a Subaru driver must make. It’s a stigma. One that says I kayak on the weekends and always have a bag of granola and my Five Finger running shoes in the trunk. Which, scary enough is true, but was I willing to let the world know? I stuck with my Taurus that day and have yet to look back. However, there’s always that thought in my mind saying someday…. someday I’ll be ready for a change.

It’s been an interesting morning and afternoon at Daytona International Speedway. Practice kicked off for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona this morning and there was plenty of action to be seen.

Endurance racing is a different breed from the exciting world of the IZOD IndyCar Series. While, yes, ultimately it is a race and there’s a start and a finish; there are literally thousands of things that can go wrong over the course of 24 hours. As a result, practice for this event is quite a sight. Teams are scrambling to put together race setups as well as find that extra bit of speed for the qualifying session in the afternoon. It takes a high level of preparation combined with dependable equipment and super-fast drivers.

The 2010 Rolex Series Champions Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates 2010 Rolex Series Champions

Showing that they look to continue to dominate the Grand Am series Team Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates jumped to the top of the practice charts in the first session.

Dario Franchitti was behind the wheel of the #02 TELMEX/Target Daytona prototype that he will be sharing with co-drivers Scott Dixon, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray.

Dario chats with Scott Dixon before practice begins

Dario chats with Scott Dixon before practice begins

Quite a lineup with four Indianapolis 500 wins and one Brickyard 400 win amongst them. Dario laid down a quick lap of 1:40.54 which was good enough for the top position. The #01 Target/TELMEX struggled in the morning session having turned a 1:41.002 which was good enough for 7th place on the charts.

Grand-Am practice is quite interesting to watch. There are multiple classes on track at the same time so it can breed some hairy situations. If you’re ever lucky enough to attend a Grand-Am event or the 24-Hours of Daytona be sure to find a seat at the end of a long straight into a heavy braking zone. The Daytona prototypes have so much more power than the GT class cars that they make massive gains on the straights (and the corners for that matter). As a result as they approach heavy braking zones often times DP drivers have to make last second decisions with the car to avoid contact and negotiate passes.

The SunTrust Racing #10 chasing down some GT Cars

The SunTrust Racing #10 chasing down some GT Cars

Practice two took off later in the day and showed that there were some other forces to be reckoned with in the paddock. Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe’s team for the weekend showed they’re ready to run up front. Ryan, co-driving with Wayne Taylor, Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli, helped his team post a fast lap of 1:40.340 putting them in P1 for the final practice session before qualifying.

Ryan Briscoes ride he'll be sharing with Wayne Taylor, Jordan Taylor, and Max Angelelli

The SunTrust Racing #10 that will be piloted by Ryan Briscoe

Justin Wilson and his Michael Shank Racing teammates A.J. Allmendinger and Michael McDowell picked up the pace and finished the session in 5th place with a quick lap of 1:40.902.

Justin Wilson gets ready to head out to practice

Justin Wilson gets ready to head out to practice

The Ganassi cars seemed to struggle a bit, compared to the first session, with the #01 finishing in 7th place and the #02 ending up in 12th position. The #95 Level 5 Motorsports BMW Riley, which is being driven by Ryan Hunter-Reay and Raphael Matos in coordination with Scott Tucker and Richard Westbrook, that finished 5th in the first session dropped five positions to end practice in 10th place.

Qualifying in Grand-Am is different from practice in that the classes qualify individually. Daytona International Speedway was recently repaved and post-practice all the drivers were commenting about how much faster the track was. It became clear just how much faster it was in qualifying. Jorg Bergmeister, who is competing in a Daytona prototype for the first time, would show that he’d found the fastest line around the course. Jorg and the Flying Lizard Motorsports team, a first year Daytona prototype team, laid down not only the fastest lap of the qualifying session but also a new Daytona prototype track record with a 1:40.099. Ryan Briscoe’s teammate and co-driver Max Angelelli put in a super strong effort finishing with a fast lap of 1:40.133 which was good enough for second place. Scott Pruett, who’s co-driving with IZOD IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal, proved that he still hasn’t lost any pace with a lap of 1:40.245 landing him in 3rd place. Scott Dixon would take the wheel of the #02 for qualifying and would not disappoint. Scott put together a great lap with a 1:40.302 yielding him a 5th place starting position. A.J. Allmendinger would put Justin Wilson’s car towards the front with a 8th place grid spot. Unfortunately the #95 of Raphael Matos and Ryan Hunter-Reay did not qualify and will start in the 50th position.

The teams have now taken to the garages for the day to make changes for practice tomorrow as well as change engines. Tomorrow should be another interesting day. Be sure to check back and MAKE SURE you follow us on Saturday as we’ll be live blogging for the full 24 hours!

The conversation flowed as freely as the Bloody Marys as late-Sunday morning regulars at the counter of Jerry’s Famous Deli dissected the previous day in South Florida sports and offered their unsolicited advice for the Dolphins’ Monday Night Football match-up with the New England Patriots.

Even the IZOD IndyCar Series race the previous evening was topic du jour as Jerry, the resident bartender/waiter, handed out condolences to Will Power along with the cheese knishes and bagels (cream cheese on the side please). Holding up the sports front page of the Miami Herald, he shook his head and said, “Tough way to lose a championship, but good for Franchitti.”

A few blocks north on Collins Avenue, the staff of the W Hotel was welcoming guests for the Championship Celebration. A cooling breeze 30 yards off South Beach also was welcome as IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights drivers began to congregate poolside mid-afternoon to soak up some sun, relax and chat at length with each other and extended family members and guests.

Show Car in Front of the W

Soon it will be time to slip into something a bit more fashionable for the informal awards program and party under the stars.

4:00 p.m.
Dario Franchitti also is poolside, but he’s in jeans and working. The now three-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion is answering basically the same questions that have been asked for the past 18 hours on a satellite media tour (SMT).

Dario Looking good

Dario Franchitti ready for his first interview

Nearby, lounging on a rattan recliner with tropical drink in hand is Power and his fiancée, Elizabeth, and Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe and his wife, Nicole. At least for the moment, he’s enjoying his runner-up finish.

4:30 p.m.
During a break in the SMT, I ask Franchitti if during one of the post-race parties (that went on till 4 a.m.) team owner Chip Ganassi wrangled his signature on a cocktail napkin (like what happened in September 2008 to return to the series) for a new contract.

“Winning or losing last night I don’t think changed anything,” he says. “Both of us are keen that we continue and I don’t see it not happening. I want to stay with the team and the team wants me to stay, so it’s just a matter of getting it done.”

6:29 p.m.

It’s the quiet before the party. Poolside at the W is transforming in preparation for tonight’s activities. Check back later as we bring you more updates, more images and new video.

The W Hotel

The W Hotel is ready

8:00 p.m.

Firestone Indy Lights driver James Hinchcliffe has arrived to interview guests of the Championship Celebration.

8:15 p.m. on…

James Hinchcliffe interviews fellow competitor and friend Stefan Wilson.

Next up, Hinch caught up with Roger Bailey, Executive Director of the Firestone Indy Lights during the party and talks about the 25 years he has spent associated with racing in the US.

10:09 p.m.

We’re on standby for the time being. Waiting on some images to upload and for some more video. To highlight some of the event (you may know this if you’ve been following on Twitter) – it’s been a blast, the weather is great, food delicious, and everyone is in good spirits. Oh, and by the way – Dario got thrown into the pool by Tony Kanaan.

You're going into the pool!

Tony Kanaan gives Dario Franchitti a gentle nudge

Video time – our gracious host, James Hinchcliffe (not camera shy) grabs a minute with Team Penske’s Will Power, to talk North Carolina, surfing and more.

You can view a bunch of images from tonight on our Flickr account – or you can view them in the slideshow, right below. It’s been a good night so far.

Terry Angstadt – President of the Indy Racing League Commercial Division talks with James Hinchcliffe about the 2010 season, working with IZOD and more.

There’s an after-party at Wall inside the W Hotel, compliments of series sponsor Global Corporate Alliance. This is where we end coverage. In the meantime, enjoy a goodbye from our amazing host Hinchtown.

And – by the way – we will have more videos from tonight, later in the week. Think of it as a treat.

At The Speed of Light

Posted on: August 12, 2010 | Comments (0) | Race Tracks | By: Shawn

While the month of May can be spent dodging raindrops, from time to time we are blessed with perfect weather over a race weekend. Last week’s racing at Mid-Ohio not only had beautiful weather, but light as well. With practice and racing sessions scheduled during ideal shooting times of morning and late afternoon, it was a photographer’s dream. Whenever I get a chance to shoot in strong light, or in high contrast situations I enjoy playing with my shutter speed and varying my apertures to see what I can produce. Below are some samples of opportunities I came across this weekend.

Pace Car: This shot was taken immediately when I got to the track on Friday morning. The pace cars were methodically lined up, morning dew beading off their brightly painted hoods! It was a great opportunity to shoot into that bright morning sun! By cranking up the shutter speed, the sun gave me a high amount of contrast to catch those droplets and the paint scheme hiding below.

Pace Car

Honda Accord Pace Car

Rollout: Shortly after taking shots of the pace car, I wandered over to the garage area where there are always opportunities to get great shots as teams set up. Dario’s crew had just begun to wheel the #10 car out into the morning light from the sharply contrasting darkness within the transporter. The effect of shooting at f/4 at 1/5000 is a striking one!

Rollout

Rollout

At Speed: While not dealing with harsh lighting or high contrast in this situation I was still concerned about how my subject and background would come out. As I peered through my viewfinder I couldn’t help but notice the brilliant yellow curbing and the bright red guard fence. The shot was taken during the race and the harsh light of midday which often washes out color. By turning down my shutter speed to 1/320 I was able to create some motion blur, however with an aperture set at f/13 I was able to capture the rich setting, and avoid that midday washout.

At speed

At speed

Pace Car
Photo info: f/2.8 at1/5000 with a 15mm. fisheye.
Rollout
Photo info: f/4 at 1/5000 with a 70-200 mm. lens
At Speed
Photo info: f/13 at1/320 with a 70-200 mm. lens and 1.4X extender.

You can view all of the images from Mid-Ohio, here.