Target Chip Ganassi Racing announced that Alex Tagliani will substitute for four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti in the MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships on Oct. 19 at Auto Club Speedway.
Franchitti is recovering from a fractured right ankle, concussion and fractured vertebrae suffered Oct. 6 in a final-lap incident in the second race of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston.
Tagliani, who competed in the first 13 races of the season in the No. 98 Barracuda Racing car for Bryan Herta Autosport, will join new teammates Scott Dixon in the No. 9 entry and Charlie Kimball in the No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing car at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway for the 250-lap race.
Dixon takes a 25-point lead over Team Penske's Helio Castroneves into the championship-deciding race.
Click it: Championship points possibilities
"As a driver, you never want an opportunity like this to come under these circumstances, but I’m up for the challenge and looking forward to working with my friend Scott and the whole Target team," said Tagliani, who has a best finish of 10th (St. Petersburg season opener and his last race at Toronto in July). "I’m thinking of Dario as everyone else is, and wishing him a quick recovery. This team has a championship on the line and I’m ready to step in a help them win it."
In four starts at the track (2000-2002, 2012), Tagliani has one pole (2001), one top-five (third, 2001) and three top-10 finishes. Overall, he has completed 945 of 970 laps and has led 22 laps. Tagliani was the 2012 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter.
“Obviously, the situation is not ideal with Dario being unable to compete in Fontana," team owner Chip Ganassi said. "As we look to the season finale we needed a driver with experience and the ability to step in and get the job done in the No. 10 car, and Alex was a logical choice for us.”
Click it: Send Franchitti "get well soon" wishes
In 18 starts in this season, Franchitti had four podium finishes (all third place), four pole starts and is eighth in the standings. He underwent surgery Oct. 6 in Houston to stabilize the ankle and is expected to be transported to Indianapolis this week for further evaluation.