2013 Indy 500: Ryan Briscoe to race for Chip Ganassi
12 April 2013
Ryan Briscoe will bid to make the starting grid of the 97th Indianapolis 500 race on May 26, after being offered a seat by Chip Ganassi's IZOD IndyCar Series race team.
“To say that I'm excited for the month of May would be a huge understatement," said the 31-year-old Australian, who had spent the last four seasons competing in IndyCar with Ganassi's arch rivals Penske, but who found himself without a full-time ride in 2013 after the team slimmed down from a three - to a two-car operation.
"I can't wait to get started," he added. "I'm looking forward to a successful month.” Briscoe won the pole position at last year's Indy 500 event while with Penske.
But despite his long association with Penske, Briscoe actually made his IndyCar début with Ganassi back in 2005, so when Ganassi realised that the driver was free to compete for him in the Indy 500 this season he wasted little time in making it happen.
"We all know Ryan is a talented driver, having had him in our IndyCar system previously," said Ganassi. "He will get up to speed quickly because he understands the ins and outs of how we operate our race program."
"The opportunity to have him back in a fourth car with us alongside Dario [Franchitti], Scott [Dixon] and Charlie [Kimball] is big."
"There are still a lot of familiar faces on the team from when I drove for Chip in 2005," acknowledged Briscoe on Friday. "I'm thrilled to join the Ganassi team for the Indianapolis 500 this year. Driving for the defending race winner – and especially with teammates that are former winners – is just incredible."
Briscoe exited Ganassi after a huge accident at the end of the 2005 season, with his seat at the time going to another Indy 500 champion, Dan Wheldon. He later had short stints with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Luczo-Dragon Racing before joining Penske in 2008. In total, Briscoe has 102 starts, seven wins, 12 poles, 27 podiums and over 1,400 laps led with a best championship finish of third place in 2009.
Since being left surplus to requirements in IndyCar at the end of last season, Briscoe has competed in the opening round of the 2013 American Le Mans Series at Sebring Raceway with Level 5 Motorsports. He will make his début in this year's Le Mans 24 Hours in June with the team.
His return to IndyCar for next month's Indy 500 has been rumoured for several weeks, but depended on the team and the driver pitting together the necessary financial backing from sponsors, which was finally delivered in the form of leading global IT services provider NTT DATA, Inc.
“We are thrilled to be a part of the Ganassi Racing Team," said John McCain, the president and CEO of NTT DATA. "Ryan Briscoe is an exceptional talent and we cannot be happier to have him behind the wheel of the #8 NTT DATA Honda.”
Assuming that he makes the starting grid, it will be Briscoe's seventh Indy 500 outing in which his best result is two fifth placed finishes in 2007 and 2012. Chip Ganassi has won the Indy 500 on five previous occasions as a team owner - the first time being in 1989 with Emerson Fittipaldi, then in 2000 with Juan Pablo Montoya, 2008 with Scott Dixon, and most recently twice with Dario Franchitti (in 2010 and 2012.)
Ganassi also won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Brickyard 400 with Jamie McMurray in 2010, making him the only team owner to win both marquee races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.