It has been confirmed by Chip Ganassi Racing that they will reduce their number of entries from four cars to two from next season.
Scott Dixon will return to the #9 Honda for his 17th year with the team. Dixon finished third in the championship standings, earning a win at Road America, one pole, ten top five finishes and 16 top ten finishes.
The #10 Honda, which was piloted by Tony Kanaan this year, will complete the two-car programme for 2018. However, Kanaan will be joining AJ Foyt Racing next season and Charlie Kimball and Max Chilton are being cut from the team. Kimball spent seven seasons with Chip Ganassi whilst Chilton leaves after two years with the team.
Current rumours suggest Brendon Hartley, WEC driver for the #2 Porsche LMP1 car, is set to take over the #10 car next season, with Formula E driver Felix Rosenqvist possibly replacing Hartley in 2019.
Chip Ganassi released this statement: “We will be returning to a two-car team beginning in 2018 with Scott Dixon in the #9 and a yet to be determined second driver in the #10,” Ganassi said.
“This decision was based on the fact that we felt we needed to get back to our core business of running TWO championship caliber teams. It was a tough decision to make as it affects a lot of people. With news like this comes contraction and as such we had to let a number of good people go. The decision was not taken lightly but we felt it was best for our business. It is one of the toughest things you experience as a business owner – especially because I am all too aware that it is the people that make any company tick. We will be back in 2018 and ready to compete for our 12th IndyCar championship.”
With Kimball and Chilton now out of the team, where does this leave them? Sources suggest that Chilton’s dad, Grahame, will start a new IndyCar team in 2018 and they want to bring Kimball to drive their second car.
This would make perfect sense for both sides. The Chilton’s have the sponsors and funding to operate the two-car operation while Kimball also has his long-time sponsor, Novo Nordisk, to bring onto the team. Grahame Chilton currently runs the successful Carlin Motorsport team that competes in Formula 2, GP3, European Formula, Indy Lights and other single-seater categories.
In the meantime, Ganassi will return to a two-car programme for the first time since 2010, when Dario Franchitti and Dixon were piloting the Target-Ganassi cars in the open-wheel racing era. Whether the team replicates the success of that season in 2018 remains to be seen.