Chip Ganassi Racing have confirmed the look of its full 2021 IndyCar Series line-up with Tony Kanaan returning to the squad on a multi-year deal.
Kanaan will race the four ovals on the 2021 calendar in the No.48 machine that seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will campaign on road courses. Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson and Alex Palou complete a formidable-looking four-car roster for CGR.
Kanaan is no stranger to racing alongside six-time IndyCar champion Dixon. The two were co-drivers at three Daytona 24 Hour races between 2014 and 2016, claiming top honours in the 2015 event.
The 2004 IndyCar champion and Indianapolis 500 winner raced for CGR in the IndyCar Series between 2014 and 2017 where he earned a win at the 2014 Fontana finale.
He had initially been intending to hang up the helmet for good at the end of 2020 but was reportedly not satisfied with bidding farewell at empty circuits as the global pandemic forced most racing to go behind closed doors.
“It’s hard to express in words how excited I am about this announcement,” said Kanaan.
“When Chip and I first started to talk about the opportunity to drive the ovals and share the #48 with Jimmie Johnson I couldn’t imagine that we would reach an agreement this fast.
“Chip Ganassi Racing is at the pinnacle of motorsports in North America and being able to be part of the programme once again with such great drivers in their line-up is a dream come true.
“I’ve also been very fortunate to enjoy great relationships with my sponsors throughout my career and having companies like Bryant and NTT DATA supporting me once again is a testament to that.
“Both Bryant and NTT DATA have been with me through different teams, wins and even life events. Being able to continue to represent these companies is truly an honour.”
Kanaan will compete at three oval venues in 2021 with back-to-back races at Texas Motorsport kicking off proceedings before the Indy 500 and the final oval of the season at Gateway.
Team owner Chip Ganassi said he warmed to the idea of running an experienced veteran of the game at the oval circuits despite the role often reserved for younger rookie drivers.
“As the IndyCar driver market trends younger and younger, experience is something that cannot be taught – especially at the Indianapolis 500,” said Ganassi.
“There is no one more experienced in the paddock than Tony, and when we needed the right fit for rounding out our oval programme, it was clear he was the right choice.
“We are very familiar with NTT DATA and Bryant over the years and are excited to have both companies back with this programme.
“Tony also knows our team, he knows our system, and he knows our drivers.
“We expect the combination of him and Jimmie to give us the one-two punch we’re looking for in the #48.”