The end of Ford’s GTE Pro involvement in 2019 ensured Chip Ganassi could expand their IndyCar line-up from two cars to three and bolster the crew’s technical expertise.
Three years after their historic 2016 win at Le Mans the Ford-backed GT programme, shared by Chip Ganassi and Ford Performance, drew to a close.
At the same time, Chip Ganassi was putting plans into action and confirmed an additional entry for the 2020 IndyCar season.
Thus, the depth of their team was strengthened as crew members from the GT programme transferred over to IndyCar. That same year, Chip Ganassi became the dominant force in the series and its vanguard, Kiwi driver Scott Dixon, wrapped up his sixth career title.
Dixon believes the team’s success was a direct reward from improving the depth of its technical and mechanical staff from the culled GT programme.
“I think it was big,” Dixon told The-Race.
“The Ford GT situation, I wouldn’t say we lost [people], they just moved to a different programme through those four years. We went from two cars, three cars, four cars [in IndyCar]. We bounced around a little bit.
“This year was the first year in the off-season we thought we had a lot of depth.
“All these [IndyCar] teams have a lot of different programmes, whether it’s wind tunnels to shaker rigs to simulation, DIL – driver in loop simulations.
“You need a lot of manpower. A lot of our engineers, race engineers, had to cover all those bases. They would leave a race, go straight to the simulator or the wind tunnel. It’s very hard to juggle.
“The biggest thing is just processing the information. This year it felt really good. I felt like we analysed a lot at the start of the off-season to see where we faltered, what areas we needed to improve on.
“Some of those we got right, some we didn’t improve on. We got to try to understand why that is.”
One significant change to Dixon’s technical roster was Michael Cannon’s introduction as the Kiwi’s race engineer.
Cannon was poached from Dayle Coyne Racing to fill the vacant role left behind by Dixon’s regular engineer Chris Simmons who was promoted to a new performance oversight position.
Dixon could only praise Cannon’s impact and his fresh perspective on ideas that have kept the team moving forward.
“Cannon, I think, brought a totally different dynamic to the team,” Dixon said.
“Once you’re in the ecosystem, it’s like when you have an Apple phone and you try to move to an Android. Nobody can kind of work it for a while.
“I think he brought in a lot of different views of basically saying ‘why do you do this?’. A lot of questions, a lot of questioning yourself, what he had previously done for many years at different places.
“Not to say that we weren’t doing a good job, but it’s nice to have a different perspective, get asked ‘why?’ a lot of times, whereas we would keep going down that tunnel we were in.
“Both of those [Cannon and the addition of the Ford GT staff] I think attributed a lot of performance in different areas. But there’s still some shortcomings we need to really focus on.”