Skip to content

So who could fill Franchitti’s seat at Ganassi?

Nov 19, 2013, 5:00 PM EDT

GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma - Day 2 Getty Images

With all the on-track action at Austin (Formula One) and Homestead (NASCAR) this weekend, the “let’s think and evaluate about potential Ganassi drivers” post went unwritten here on MotorSportsTalk.

Indeed the news Dario Franchitti had to retire due to his injuries sustained at Houston was the tip of the iceberg in terms of this story. The racing world reacted, then my MST colleague Chris Estrada and I offered our initial thoughts, then team principal Chip Ganassi outlined the game plan on a conference call last week about what might happen for the No. 10 Target Chevrolet.

Thoughts on potential candidates to fill the seat will follow. Though, as Ganassi astutely observed in that call, “Whoever fills that seat not only has obviously big shoes if not the biggest shoes to fill in the sport, but you’re also somebody that has to be a huge teammate and able to help Scott Dixon, as well, and Kanaan and Charlie (Kimball).  So it’s not just a single-faceted job to get in that car.  That car is part of a team that I think for years has run at the front of the pack, and everything that goes along with running at the front in terms of scoring points for championships and helping teammates win championships.”

  • Alex TaglianiThe veteran deputized admirably at Fontana until a late-race spin, and he has been listed for the team’s December 4 test at Sebring. Still, a full-time move to sports cars seems more likely for him at this point.
  • Ryan Briscoe. It could be “Ganassi 3.0″ for the Australian if he slots in, after a rocky rookie year in 2005 and a one-off in a fourth car at this year’s Indianapolis 500. He hasn’t confirmed a deal – or a signed contract – elsewhere although reports have linked him to Panther Racing, where he ran a handful of 2013 races, for months.
  • Justin Wilson. Signed a contract extension with Dale Coyne earlier this year and will have a new engineer either way with Bill Pappas gone to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Coyne is still very likely for him, but this would be the plum opportunity in a top ride Wilson has always deserved.
  • Tony Kanaan. Ganassi said TK was “not out of the question” for the 10 car although he is signed with the No. 8 NTT Data/TNT Energy Drink Chevrolet as it stands. Reading between the lines, I believe he’ll stay in the 8 if Ganassi signs a veteran, and could shift to the 10 if Ganassi takes a chance on an up-and-comer.
  • Paul di Resta. Has just said in an interview with The Guardian he has to consider IndyCar seriously if he gets dropped by Force India. Still an “if,” for now, though.
  • Conor Daly. Daly is known to be on the short list for the team, and as a young American who’s proved his versatility in various open-wheel series worldwide, would be a great addition full-time to the IndyCar field.
  • Sage Karam. This is the biggest wild-card I’m including on here, but it’s not impossible. Karam, the Indy Lights champion, has the same management team as Franchitti, has Mazda scholarship funding in hand and additional support from longtime backer Comfort Revolution.
  • A.N. Other. The “completely out of left field” choice a la Juan Pablo Montoya going to Penske. This option works if Ganassi manages to sign someone currently under contract to another team, or takes a flier on someone from Europe – perhaps di Resta as mentioned above – or someone else from the European junior categories.

Either way, the race to see who fills this seat is the most intense in IndyCar for the coming weeks.

Latest Posts
  1. WATCH LIVE: FP3 for the Belgian Grand Prix

    Aug 23, 2014, 4:45 AM EDT

    Fernando Alonso AP

    One final chance for the drivers and teams to get to grips with Spa ahead of qualifying later today.

  2. MRTI: Title battles to reach crescendo after intriguing Friday at Sonoma

    Aug 23, 2014, 1:09 AM EDT

    Photo: Pro Mazda AP

    Dramatic day for Pro Mazda, USF2000 Friday in Sonoma.

  3. Ryan Blaney passes Kyle Busch on final restart, hangs on to win Nationwide race at Bristol

    Aug 22, 2014, 11:35 PM EDT

    (Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Ryan Blaney passed Kyle Busch with six laps left in Friday night’s Food City 300 Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, and then held on the rest of the way to earn his second career NNS victory.

  4. Delay’s over, engines fired for Nationwide Series at Bristol (UPDATED)

    Aug 22, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    bristol rain Getty Images

    Update (8:30 p.m. ET): The engines have been fired and tonight’s Food City 300 is ready to roll.

  5. Kevin Harvick edges Jeff Gordon for Bristol Sprint Cup pole

    Aug 22, 2014, 6:54 PM EDT

    harvick bristol 2 2014 Getty Images

    Jeff Gordon looked like he had the pole for Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. But Kevin Harvick had other ideas.

  6. Will A.J. Allmendinger seek payback for Brad Daugherty’s practical joke?

    Aug 22, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT

    dinger daugherty watkins glen 2014 Getty Images

    At 7-feet tall, ESPN NASCAR analyst, team co-owner and former NBA star Brad Daugherty is a formidable presence. He’s also known to play a practical joke every now and then.

  7. NASCAR: Bristol spring weekend shifting to April

    Aug 22, 2014, 5:39 PM EDT

    Food City 500 Getty Images

    Unpredictable weather conditions have impacted the Food City 500 in its March spot, which the event has had since the 2005 season.

  8. 2015 NASCAR Schedule to be Revealed Tuesday, 5 p.m. ET, on special NASCAR AMERICA

    Aug 22, 2014, 5:21 PM EDT

    NASCAR America

    The 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule will be officially presented on Tuesday, August 26 at 5 p.m. ET on a special 60-minute edition of NASCAR AMERICA.

  9. Kyle Busch earns Nationwide pole for tonight at Bristol

    Aug 22, 2014, 5:05 PM EDT

    Bristol Motor Speedway - Day 1 Getty Images

    “Rowdy” earns the pole for tonight’s Food City 300 with a lap of 125.142 miles per hour in the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

  10. Longtime Busch Series owner Ed Whitaker passes away

    Aug 22, 2014, 3:52 PM EDT

    ed whitaker 2014

    Former NASCAR Nationwide Series team owner Ed Whitaker passed away Friday at his home in Bristol, Va., business associate Peter Laura told the Bristol Herald Courier.

  11. Rossi disappointed, but diplomatic, after Marussia no-go

    Aug 22, 2014, 3:04 PM EDT

    RossiBELP1 AP

    In statement, Alexander Rossi takes the high road after missing out on Grand Prix debut with Marussia in Spa.

  12. NASCAR: Stenhouse tops final Bristol Cup practice ahead of qualifying later today

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:41 PM EDT

    Irwin Tools Night Race - Practice Getty Images

    Late in the 50-minute session, the Roush Fenway Racing driver zipped around the half-mile oval at 131.048 mph in the No. 17 Ford Fusion.

  13. Belgian GP Paddock Notebook – Friday

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Practice Getty Images

    Here’s today’s round-up from the paddock at Spa-Francorchamps.

  14. Mercedes-powered teams excel during Belgian GP practice

    Aug 22, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    Nico Hulkenberg AP

    In the year of the power unit, Spa is rewarding the Mercedes-powered teams.

  15. Russian GP3 driver survives an insane, backwards barrel roll at Spa (VIDEO)

    Aug 22, 2014, 1:27 PM EDT

    Photo via @123pnz on Twitter Photo via @123pnz on Twitter

    Russian GP3 debutante Konstantin Tereschenko goes for a wild ride at Spa, but mercifully emerges unscathed.

  16. NASCAR: Kyle Larson fastest in 1st Sprint Cup practice at Bristol

    Aug 22, 2014, 1:16 PM EDT

    Irwin Tools Night Race - Practice Getty Images

    The Chip Ganassi Racing driver turns a lap of 131.083 mph around the high-banked half-mile to lead Friday’s first practice session.

  17. At just 16 years old, is Max Verstappen simply too young for F1?

    Aug 22, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Previews Getty Images

    As good as he may be, is Max Verstappen too young to be racing up against drivers twice his age?

  18. Verstappen set for practice sessions in Austin, Brazil, Abu Dhabi

    Aug 22, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Previews Getty Images

    Son of ex-racer Jos set to become the youngest ever F1 driver next season at the age of 17.

  19. Kenseth still in good Chase spot, but not out of woods yet

    Aug 22, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

    Pure Michigan 400 - Qualifying Getty Images

    At 13th on the Chase Grid with three regular season races left, the former Sprint Cup champion isn’t feeling the need to choose between going for a win or having a good points day.

Video from NASCAR America

Why Bristol is such a unique track
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (1523)
  2. I. Vences (1258)
  3. K. Harvick (1204)
  4. B. McReynolds (1097)
  5. K. Kahne (1026)