Chip Ganassi Racing utilizes winning sports car crew for Indy 500 entry

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Rules and procedures, as well as subtle differences in pit-stop protocol, are tantamount. O’Gara and his crew have it down, but if there are questions, the answers aren’t far away.“I have to get my head around IndyCar rules and then get right back into sports car mode next week at Detroit,” O’Gara said. “Things are different about how pit lane lane operates and safety gear that I have to be careful with. Luckily I have a huge support system within the team. If I’ve got a question, I’ve got a lot of guys I can lean on.”Hull says the other four Ganassi IndyCar crews often pick up different approaches from O’Gara’s crew, just as O’Gara’s crew learns from the other four. “It’s a very integrated system,” Hull said.It’s also a crazy schedule. After Sunday’s race, the IndyCar Series holds four races in three weeks, including a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader next weekend at Detroit. After its Detroit event, the United SportsCar Championship moves to Watkins Glen, N.Y., on June 28.“The only thing a baseball team does on a travel day is have a da game so they can get on a bus and Get to an airplane early,” Hull said. “Motor racing has a very compact season. We’re kind of like a baseball team in that regard, We run 162 Games in a row. It’s the same idea. The hardest thing isn’t the motivational factor. It’s taking care of all the small things ahead of time so the workforce on each of those cars can get the most out of the race.”But the real reason this crew is here working on a car when most people are barbecuing? Love of racing.“If you have to work on Memorial Day,” O’Gara said, “I couldn’t pick a better place to be working.” Sebastian Saavedra (Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports)Sebastian Saavedra (Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports)INDIANAPOLIS — Want to hear a story about people who love racing? Listen to the people behind Chip Ganassi Racing’s fifth entry in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.Staffed almost entirely by members of Ganassi’s successful sports car team, the No. 17 Chevrolet driven by Sebastian Saavedra is running on fumes. Figuratively, of course. Most of the crew members haven’t had a day off in nearly a month and — like the rest of the Ganassi operation — won’t get a break after Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.That’s when they’ll begin preparing for Chevrolet Sports Car Classic, the fifth round of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship that appears on the same card with the Verizon IndyCar Series next weekend on Belle Isle in Detroit.Since a sports car race May 3 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas, Calif., the crew hasn’t had a day off. They went straight into preparation for Indy. On Monday, they’ll be back at the team’s shop in nearby Brownsburg, Ind., to build the No. 01 Ford-powered Riley that Joey Hand and Scott Pruett will drive in Detroit.“No amount of money will make up for this effort,” team Manager Mike O’Gara said. “These guys do this because they love it. It’s their lives. They sacrifice a lot of free time and family time to do it. The thing that’s good about this one is that it’s the Indianapolis 500. If it was any other race, it would be tough to give up that time. But there’s something about this place. It helps keep everybody’s heads up and their heads in the game.”When Ganassi debuted its sports car team in the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway in 2004, the crew came mostly from the team’s IndyCar operation. Now, when the sports car team expands to two teams — as it typically does for the Rolex — the second car is crewed by IndyCar regulars. It’s a back-and-forth. That’s proven successful. Ganassi has a record six wins in the race, including this year’s victory by Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray in the team’s No. 02 car, which was wrenched by IndyCar mechanics.Chip Ganassi Racing drivers (from left) Tony Kanaan, Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray and Scott Dixon receive Rolex watches after winning The Rolex 24 at Daytona in January. (Jerry Markland/Getty Images)Chip Ganassi Racing drivers (from left) Tony Kanaan, Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray and Scott Dixon receive Rolex watches after winning The Rolex 24 at Daytona in January. (Jerry Markland/Getty Images)“The symmetry between the two (sports car) teams is transparent,” Mike Hull, Chip Ganassi Racing’s managing director. “They work really really hard together, and this year the 02 car won the 24-hour race. It’s a good example of what we do. We share everything and support each other. None of us are armchair people. We’re engaged.”Saavedra said the team’s transformation from sports car team to IndyCar team has been flawless.“It’s difficult to bring a crew together after a season has already started, but with the guys from Chip Ganassi Racing it’s been a seamless transition,” Saavedra said. “It’s just been great working with them. Even though they don’t always work on Indy cars, you can tell they know what they’re doing. I’m lucky to have them as my crew and I have full confidence in their ability to get the job done on Sunday.”Al Bodey, a special projects engineer for Ganassi, helps out the No. 17 AFS Ganassi Chevrolet while the group’s sports car engineer, John Hennek, preps the No. 01 Ford for Detroit. Bodey also works with engineers for the other four Ganassi teams — pole winner Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball and Sage Karam. Also leading the effort on the No. 17 is Ken Brooks, the assistant engineer on the No. 01.center_img Play VideoPlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration Time 0:00Loaded: 0%0:00Progress: 0%0:00 Progress: 0%Stream TypeLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1ChaptersChaptersdescriptions off, selectedDescriptionssubtitles off, selectedSubtitlescaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedCaptionsAudio TrackFullscreenThis is a modal window. An unanticipated problem was encountered, check back soon and try again Error Code: MEDIA_ERR_UNKNOWNlast_img

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