Bobby Rahal and Chip Ganassi

DETROIT – NTT IndyCar Series veteran team owners Chip Ganassi and Bobby Rahal know sponsorship deals are hard to make and even tougher to keep.

But Tuesday’s announcement that global systems integration company NTT was joining the open-wheel series as title sponsor this season has the two respected team leaders more encouraged about INDYCAR moving forward.

“They (NTT) do business with every major corporation on a global basis,” said Ganassi, owner of Chip Ganassi Racing, whose driver Scott Dixon is the reigning series champion. “They do business with everybody from banks to car companies to everyone who needs big data. They have some thump. They are a worldwide company.”

Ganassi and Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, spoke to the new business partnership between INDYCAR and NTT at the North American International Auto Show, where the announcement was made.

“I think it's a huge announcement obviously for the series, but for those of us within the series, it's great,” said Rahal, whose team is fielding cars for son Graham Rahal and 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato this season. “Very meaningful because obviously it shows the value of the series, and everybody has been working hard to raise that value. The racing is, I don't think, anything is any better anywhere in the world, and so it's nice to have NTT come on board. It's a huge international company.

“This can mean nothing but great things for the series, and for all of us involved in the series the same,” Rahal added. “We're thrilled about the longevity of it because, as a team owner, now we've got something to really sell (to potential team sponsors), not just this year but in years to come. So, I think it's just a home run for all of us within the series.”

“The fact that it is a company of such note as NTT is clearly huge.”

Ganassi’s team has had a successful association with NTT DATA, an NTT subsidiary, since 2013.

Rookie driver Felix Rosenqvist of Sweden will drive the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda this season in the NTT IndyCar Series, while defending series champion Scott Dixon will pilot the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda with associate sponsorship from NTT among others. Previous CGR drivers to drive with the blue NTT DATA sponsorship include Ryan Briscoe, Tony Kanaan and Ed Jones.

“I’ve seen them (NTT) take customers they entertain and make them great customers,” Ganassi said. “I know what we can deliver, and what they can deliver to the series; it’s a perfect match.”

The 2019 NTT IndyCar Series schedule features 17 races on a diverse array of tracks including temporary street circuits, permanent road courses, short ovals and superspeedway ovals. The season opens with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 10 and concludes with the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey on Sept. 22.

All races will air live on either NBC or NBCSN, as well as the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.