RACING ONE: IRL's new Ganassi target

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foxsports admin

First Roger Penske, then Michael Andretti and now Chip Ganassi. Slowly but surely the core group of CART team owners are migrating to the Indy Racing League. Ganassi is the latest to make the move as the Target Ganassi Racing Team announced on Wednesday its intentions to run a two car IRL effort for drivers Scott Dixon and Tomas Scheckter in 2003. Dixon drives for Ganassi's CART team this year while Scheckter spent 2002 piloting Eddie Cheever's Red Bull Racing machine. The move increases the IRL presence of the Target Chip Ganassi Racing, which fielded one car in the IRL in 2002 for driver Jeff Ward, who won in June for the team at Texas Motor Speedway. The team won the 2000 Indianapolis 500 with driver Juan Pablo Montoya and the MBNA Pole for the 2002 Indianapolis 500 with driver Bruno Junqueira. Ganassi¿s team won four consecutive CART championships from 1996-99. Ganassi is eager for the challenge of competing full time in the IRL. ¿I¿m looking forward to racing in the IRL next season,¿ Ganassi said. ¿We had a taste of the IRL this year, and it¿s a great series. I¿m also excited about the two young drivers that we have on board for next season. These two guys have shown that they can win races, and that¿s what we¿re about. ¿It¿s going to be a big challenge, but we¿re ready for it.¿ Longtime partner Target will continue to sponsor the team in 2003, as it backed the team¿s CART and IRL efforts in 2002. Powering the team next year will be Toyota engines, a partner of the team since the 2000 season. Indy Racing League car manufacturer G Force will supply the chassis for the 2003 season. After earning Toyota¿s initial CART victory in 2000, Target Chip Ganassi Racing will look to provide the manufacturer its first IRL triumph in 2003. Scheckter, the 22-year-old son of 1979 Formula One World Champion Jody Scheckter, is entering his second season in the ultra-competitive Indy Racing League. Last season, Scheckter won three MBNA Poles, was third in laps led and captured his first career victory at the Michigan Indy 400. ¿I¿ve said all along that I wanted to stay in the Indy Racing League, and it¿s a dream to join a great organization like this,¿ Scheckter said. ¿I had an up-and-down year last season, but I learned a lot. I¿m already excited about racing with the Target team and Toyota power; I just wish that the season would get started a little sooner.¿ Current Team Target driver Dixon will move to the IRL after two successful seasons in CART, especially on ovals. He recorded nine top-10 finishes in 12 races on oval tracks during his CART career. Dixon, 22, became the youngest winner in major open-wheel racing history at the age of 20 years and 9 months when he drove to the checkered flag in April 2001 at Nazareth (Pa.) Speedway, which now plays host to an IRL event. ¿I¿m very happy to be back with the team for another year,¿ Dixon said. ¿This has been the best team in open-wheel racing for the last 10 years. It¿s a great team with great people, and it¿s one of the main reasons that I wanted to come back for another year. ¿Add that to a top-notch sponsor in Target and an engine manufacturer that I¿ve worked with since I moved up from Indy Lights in Toyota, and I think we have all the ingredients to win another championship for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. I¿ve had a lot of success on the ovals in my career, and it¿s going to be a fun year.¿

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