Indianapolis 500 winner and 2004 IndyCar champion Tony Kanaan will return to Chip Ganassi Racing after signing a multi-year deal to race the four ovals on the calendar in 2021.
Kanaan raced for CGR in the American open-wheel series from 2014 through to 2017, scoring a win at the 2014 Fontana finale and 10 other podiums before departing for AJ Foyt’s team in 2018.
The Brazilian had planned to call time on an IndyCar career that began in 1998 following an oval-only schedule in 2020, in which he scored a best result of ninth at the first Gateway race, but told Autosport that he wasn’t comfortable with finishing his career in a pandemic-afflicted season without fans in attendance and was eyeing another deal for 2021.
He has now signed a deal to return to Ganassi with another oval-only programme racing the #48 machine that seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will drive on road courses, with six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson and Alex Palou completing the line-up after signing from Dale Coyne Racing to replace Arrow McLaren SP-bound Felix Rosenqvist.
Commenting on the deal, Kannan said: “It’s hard to express in words how excited I am about this announcement.
“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.”
Team owner Ganassi added: “As the IndyCar driver market trends younger and younger, experience is something that cannot be taught – especially at the Indianapolis 500.
“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.”
Autosport has produced a standalone special magazine to celebrate our 70th birthday. All current print subscribers will receive a copy for free. To order your copy of the 196-page Autosport 70th Anniversary issue, please go to: autosport.com/autosport70th