There are shades of 2007 with Ryan Briscoe signed to compete for Chip Ganassi Racing Teams in the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
The team announced that Briscoe would drive the No. 8 Honda-powered entry with primary sponsorship from NTT DATA, a global IT services provider, in a one-off role May 26. Last year, in his fifth season with Team Penske, Briscoe was the Indianapolis 500 pole sitter and finished fifth in the race won by Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti.
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“I’m thrilled to join the Ganassi team for the Indianapolis 500 this year,” said Briscoe, who will be a teammate to three-time Indy 500 winner Franchitti, 2008 race winner Scott Dixon and Charlie Kimball. “Driving for the defending race winner – and especially with teammates that are former winners – is just incredible. I can’t wait to get started. I'm definitely motivated.”
Briscoe was not re-signed by Team Penske following last season, in which he recorded one victory, eight top-10 finishes overall and two pole starts, as the team retracted to two full-season entries for Helio Castroneves and Will Power. Team Penske will expand to have AJ Allmendinger in the No. 2 Chevrolet-powered IZOD car for the Indy 500.
Fourteen of Briscoe’s 102 IZOD IndyCar Series starts came with Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 2005, during which he earned his first pole start (Sonoma Raceway) and had a best finish of eighth (Nashville Superspeedway) before a season-ending injury suffered in a crash at Chicagoland Speedway. Dixon and Darren Manning were his teammates in Toyota-powered cars.
The following year, he competed in four post-Indianapolis events for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and two Champ Car races. In '07, Briscoe made his only start of the IZOD IndyCar Series season in the 500 Mile Race in a car entered by first-time entrant Luczo Dragon Racing. He started seventh and finished fifth.
"I feel that since then I have more experience at the Speedway and I'm looking forward to bettering my best finish. I think we have all the tools to go out and have a chance at winning. That's all I want and I know that's why Chip has added me to the team this year because he wants the best shot at wining as well. I couldn't have asked for a better opportunity."
Briscoe has seven career starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including three from the front row (2008, third; 2009, second; 2012, first). He’s led a total of 31 laps on the 2.5-mile oval in three races.
"I'm looking forward to getting out on the track with the Honda power," he added. "With Indy being the first oval on the calendar, I'm not missing out on anything comparing myself to the other drivers. I can't wait to work with Scott and Dario and Charlie, who has started this year strong. Hopefully, I can bring something to the table that they can learn from me. I think it's going to be a really strong team."
Briscoe has seven victories, 12 earned poles, 27 podium finishes, more than 1,400 laps led and a high championship finish of third (2009) in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
This year, he’s driven in the American Le Mans Series for Level 5 Motorsports, which won its class in the 12 Hours of Sebring in March. He will compete for the team in an ALMS race April 20 during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which features the IZOD IndyCar Series race April 21.
“We all know Ryan is a talented driver, having had him in our Indy car system previously,” said Ganassi, whose team has won the Indianapolis 500 five times. “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, Scott and Charlie is big.
“We are excited to bring NTT DATA into our team as well. Their strong reputation, coupled with their focus on IT innovation, makes them an ideal partner for our race program.”
Opening Day for practice May 11. Pole Day is May 18 and Bump Day is May 19.