“Obviously last year the Ganassis were the different benchmark. They’re the ones that we’re chasing,” O’Ward admits ahead of this month’s Indy 500

INDIANAPOLIS — Chip Ganassi Racing has won five Indianapolis 500’s. That ranks in a tie for third most all-time with Lou Moore (1938, 1941, 1947, 1948, 1949). Only Team Penske (18 wins) and Andretti Autosport (6 wins) have more. Three of those five triumphs in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing for Ganassi came in a five-year span between 2008 and 2012.

However, entering last year’s 106th edition, that 2012 win by Dario Franchitti was their last. That drought has since ended with Marcus Ericsson sipping the milk last May.

Now, the Ganassi foursome is hopeful of a second straight win on May 28.

“Obviously last year the Ganassi’s were the different benchmark. They’re the ones that we’re chasing,” said last year’s runner-up finisher, Pato O’Ward.

MORE: 10 storylines for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500

He’s not wrong. Even though a Ganassi driver didn’t win in 2021, it’s not like they didn’t dominate. If not for an early race caution, Scott Dixon likely would have. Alex Palou had a chance in the end but Helio Castroneves took the second-year driver at the time to school in picking up his record tying fourth Indy 500 crown.

A year prior, Dixon led 111 of 200 laps in 2020 but was beat in the end by Takuma Sato. Last year even, Dixon led 95 laps but was speeding on pit road for his final stop while leading. Palou had the same thing that happen to Dixon in 2021 happen to him while he was leading. He led 47 laps last year. Ericsson ended up winning and Tony Kanaan in third. They combined to lead 163 of 200 laps (82%) last year.

“Marcus (Ericsson) out of nowhere just came out with insane speed,” O’Ward said last year when he finished second. “Got by me like I was standing still. Got up to Felix (Rosenqvist) I think within two laps, passed him like he was standing still, left him. I got to Felix finally. I passed him. I had nothing for him. I said, I need a yellow to try and have a shot.

“Tony was also really quick coming behind me. I know he was catching me faster than what I was catching Marcus. When the restart happened, I said, I have one shot, I have to go flat, and still wasn’t enough.

“Too fast in the straight. Maybe if I would have timed it a little bit better. I really don’t think I could have done it much better. I did enough to what we had been doing all race.

“But, yeah, at the end I was surprised with how much more pace they had in a straight line with quite a bit more downforce. I was just trying to time it as good as possible.”

They even qualified 1-3-4-6-12 a year ago and 1-3-7-9 in 2021.

That’s why they’re the ones to beat.

You have Dixon who’s won the last two Indy 500 poles and 5 in total. You have Palou who enters as the current points leader and winner of the last race in the GMR Grand Prix. He’s driving as good now as ever. You have the defending race winner in Ericsson and Takuma Sato who has 3 top 3’s in his last 6 Indy starts and has won the Indy 500 with two different teams. Why not a third?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s