Racing Lifer Chip Ganassi Has the Most Intriguing Indianapolis 500 Driver Lineup

indianapolis, in during indianapolis 500 practice in indianapolis, indiana photo by james black ims photo
Ganassi Has Most Intriguing Indy 500 Driver LineupPenske Entertainment/James Black
  • IndyCar team owner Chip Ganassi will have five drivers in this year's Indianapolis 500, including three of the six rookies in the field.

  • Ganassi veterans Scott Dixon and Alex Palou have been called on to assist the newcomers.

  • The Chip Ganassi Racing Hondas were less than impressive in qualifying, but solid in final practice on Friday.

Chip Ganassi is a motorsports lifer. That life gained another year Friday as Ganassi celebrated his 66th birthday standing near the yard of bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, his home away from home for decades.

When the green flag falls on the 108th edition of the Indianapolis 500 Sunday (or Monday, or whenever the weather allows), Ganassi will have five cars in the game, and he’ll also be on the lookout for the adventures of a sixth.


Veterans and champions Alex Palou and Scott Dixon are in the field for Chip Ganassi Racing, along with rookies Marcus Armstrong, Kyffin Simpson and Linus Lundqvist. Ganassi has half of the six rookies on the starting grid.

indianapolis, in during the indianapolis 500 at the indianapolis motor speedway photo by joe skibinski ims photo
Scott Dixon will start 21st for Ganassi Racing at Indianapolis.Penske Entertainment/Joe Skibinski

That mix of veterans and fresh faces gives Ganassi one of the most interesting lineups in the field. Dixon and Palou have been called on to assist the newcomers while also working out the kinks in their own parts of the operation.

“They’re typical rookies,” Ganassi said. “They feel this and feel that. I think they’re all feeling the same thing. It’s difficult, first of all, being a rookie here, and it’s even more difficult when you have guys like Palou and Dixon as teammates, but the rookies have adapted well. They sort of know the boundaries with Scott and Alex, and Scott and Alex have taken on a mentorship role when they have time. I’m happy with it. We have the veteran gunslingers and the up-and-comers.

“It’s a balancing act between your own wants and needs and those of the team. Everybody has been doing a good job with that. Alex and Dixon have an extra job with the rookies, and I’m happy how they’re handling it.”

indianapolis, in during practice for the indianapolis 500 at the indianapolis motor speedway in indianapolis, indiana photo by chris jones ims photo
Kyffin Simpson is one of three rookies racing for Ganassi at this year’s 500.Penske Entertainment/Chris Jones

The CGR Hondas were less than impressive in qualifying. Palou will start 14th, Armstrong 16th, Simpson 18th, Dixon 21st and Lundqvist 27th.

Things improved considerably in the final practice Friday, Dixon leading the chart at 227.206, Palou finishing ninth and Simpson 12th.

“We weren’t happy with qualifying,” Ganassi said. “It wasn’t our normal qualifying effort. The good news is I think we know what we did wrong. I think we’ve rectified a lot since then. I’m not overly concerned about racing anybody that’s in front of us.”

In addition to his five-car stable, Ganassi will have an eye on Kyle Larson, who is scheduled to race at both Indianapolis and Charlotte Sunday, weather permitting. Larson drove several seasons for Ganassi’s NASCAR Cup team before their partnership ended in controversy in April 2020. NASCAR suspended Larson for using a racial slur during an iRacing computer competition, the team’s sponsors disappeared and he ultimately was fired by Ganassi. Larson eventually returned to Cup with Hendrick Motorsports and has built a solid career in stock cars.

Larson has impressed at Indy, seemingly picking up the particulars of the cars and the track quickly and qualifying fifth for Sunday’s race.

“I’m not the least bit surprised at how he’s doing,” Ganassi said. “I think he’ll be great. I expected him to do well here, and I hope he does. I’m a big fan of Kyle Larson. It (the 2020 issue) was one of those situations. You all know what happened. It was an unfortunate situation, but, in the end, everybody came out good.”