It had been quite the eventful month already for Ryan Briscoe, who joined wife Nicole for the birth of the couple’s first child, Finley Evers, on Dec. 5. On Dec. 13, the 32-year-old driver’s IndyCar career was reborn.
Team owner Chip Ganassi announced at the Performance Racing Industries show in Indianapolis that Briscoe will rejoin the team as the driver the Chevrolet-powered No. 8 NTT DATA car for the full 2014 IndyCar Series season and beyond.
He’ll join reigning series champion Scott Dixon, 2013 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner Tony Kanaan and 2013 race winner Charlie Kimball as Chip Ganassi Racing Teams expands its lineup for the 18-race season that kicks off with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 28-30. The full team's initial on-track session is scheduled for Jan. 17 at Sebring International Raceway.
Click it: It's a "bittersweet day" for Kanaan, who'll drive No. 10 car in 2014
The vacancy was the result of four-time series champion Dario Franchitti's retirement last month, and Kanaan will slide into the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car.
Ganassi said the genesis of the NTT DATA program began at the Indianapolis 500, in which Briscoe drove the No. 8 car.
“Honestly, it is always refreshing when you have partners that get the big picture and both Target and NTT DATA both understand that," said Ganassi, who noted that the team was contacted by several drivers about the ride. "This is the best of both worlds. We not only get the driver that we wanted to add to our team in Ryan Briscoe, but in addition we are able to put them in the cars that I felt were the most appropriate."
Briscoe, a native of Sydney, Australia, and a North Carolina resident, broke into the IndyCar Series in 2005 with Target Chip Ganassi Racing after serving as a test driver for Panasonic Toyota Racing in Formula One the previous year. He posted three top-10 finishes and one pole start in 14 races, but did not start at Milwaukee following an on-track incident and did not compete in the final two races following a fiery crash in the race at Chicagoland Speedway.
Replaced at Ganassi for the 2006 season, Briscoe cobbled together IndyCar Series and Champ Car Series rides the next two seasons before landing with Team Penske for 2008. He scored all seven career wins with the team through 2012, finishing as high as third in the championship standings in ’09 and winning the pole for the Indianapolis 500 in ‘12.
Following the Indianapolis 500, Briscoe filled the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing seat for six other races.
"This is sort of full circle and I feel like one of the luckiest guys out there at the moment," said Briscoe, who has recorded 13 pole starts in addition to his seven wins in 111 Indy car races. "The first IndyCar I ever drove was one of Chip's at Phoenix at the end of 2004 and it's been a roller coaster ride since then. I've had a lot of great experiences and driven a lot of great race cars, and nothing beats being back here. I can't wait to get integrated into the team again and with my new teammates. I think it's going to be an unbelievable year."
Chevrolet also announced that Briscoe would co-drive one of its Chevrolet Corvettes in selected sports car endurance races in the upcoming season, including the Rolex 24 At Daytona.