INDIANAPOLIS — During the Saturday of the season finale for the NTT IndyCar Series, Chip Ganassi Racing announced that Jimmie Johnson would drive for the team in both 2021 and 2022 with Carvana sponsorship on the newly branded No. 48 Honda. Carvana, would sponsor Johnson on the 13 road/street course events next season and would be back in a similar capacity for 2022 too.
The only thing left would be who would share that seat with them and how much funding can they bring?
Johnson, wanted Tony Kanaan. So much so, he called Kanaan before the Ganassi deal was even done saying to come split an Indy Car seat with him. Johnson, will take the road/street courses and Kanaan the ovals.
Kanaan was obviously wanted to oblige and make this work. He didn’t want to go out like this. See, 2020 was supposed to be his final swan song but without fans at most races or limited at best at the others, he felt like he owed it to them to come back one more time.
The problem was, could they come up with enough funding?
“That phone call — you know what is one of those things that you remember exactly the day, the clothes you were wearing, where you were and so on?” Kanaan said of how this deal came about. “I was actually on my bike working out, which is not a surprise, here at home, and the phone rang, and it was Jimmie. I’m like, whoa, I thought he was going to invite me to do a triathlon or something like that, and he popped the question, and I said, are you joking? I don’t think we can pull this off.”
Well, they did.
First came Johnson’s signing back at the end of October. Then, came the deal over the last few weeks that saw Bryant and NTT Data decide to hop on for a couple of races for Kanaan on the oval program.
Now, they found the final missing piece.
Chip Ganassi Racing announced on Tuesday a multi-year agreement with the nation’s largest veterans service organization, The American Legion, as a sponsor of the No. 48 Honda in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES represented by a combination of Seven-Time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson (street and road courses) and former Indianapolis 500 Winner and Series Champion Tony Kanaan (ovals).
“We’re excited about this new relationship with The American Legion as it allows us to further the sponsorship program on the No. 48 team with Jimmie and Tony, while also representing a very important relationship with an organization dedicated to supporting veterans,” said Chip Ganassi, team owner of Chip Ganassi Racing. “Jimmie in particular has a long-standing appreciation for the service of veterans, so it was just another reason why partnering with The American Legion on his debut in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES made sense.”
The American Legion will be featured prominently on Johnson’s No. 48 Honda during every race in the 2021 and 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The organization will also be the primary paint scheme for two races in 2021, including, “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend. Kanaan, winner of the 2013 Indianapolis 500, will be behind the wheel for those races.
“This is truly a win-win for all involved,” said James W. “Bill” Oxford, national commander of The American Legion. “Teaming up with Chip Ganassi Racing allows The American Legion to showcase how it strengthens America every day through its programs, advocacy and support of veterans and their families. We’re looking forward to bringing that message and our mission to race fans across the country.”
The announcement comes on #GivingTuesday, a day of global giving designed to help change communities and the world. As a result, Johnson, who has family members that have served in the military, will be making a $10,000 donation to The American Legion. Johnson hopes his donation will motivate fans and the public to support our veterans by donating $48 to The American Legion. The $48 pays homage to the number 48 car that he and Kanaan will drive. Donors can visit legion.org/48 to make a gift and help celebrate this new relationship and veterans across the country.
“Our family knows firsthand how important it is to recognize our veterans,” said Johnson, who’s grandfathers and brother-in-law served in the military. “It’s exciting to be partnering with The American Legion to be able to show our appreciation to veterans and to continue to raise public awareness and support for this special organization. Giving Tuesday is a great day to announce this partnership and a way for fans to show their appreciation for our veterans.”
Now, the 48 car is fully funded for two whole seasons to allow Johnson and Kanaan to thrive in this seat.