Commitment to Excellence

Tim Harms


Owner: Chip Ganassi
Drivers: Chris Festa (No. 9), Pablo Perez (No. 10)
Team Manager: Mike Hull
Chief Mechanics: Kevin O'Donnell, Butch Winkle

Overview: Chip Ganassi Racing enters Indy Pro Series competition for the first time in 2007, but expectations are high not only within the team, but around the paddock as well. Rival team owners, such as Brian Stewart, whose team has captured the last two Indy Pro Series championships, know that Ganassi's teams have a reputation for excellence and for doing everything 100 percent.

The team has brought in several individuals with experience in the Indy Pro Series, including driver Chris Festa, who will entering his third season of competition, and chief mechanic Butch Winkle, who has worked for Roth Racing, Kenn Hardley Racing and Cheever Racing in the past.

Watch For.A Quick Learning Curve: Chip Ganassi Racing may be new to the Indy Pro Series, but this team demands excellence. Festa and Pablo Perez were 13th and 14th, respectively, on the road course at the Homestead Open Test and fifth and 12th, respectively, on the oval. Perez, who has never raced on ovals, expects to climb the charts quickly.

Watch For.Maturation: Festa enters his third season in Indy Pro Series competition but is still only 21 years old. In the past three years, he's driven for Bobby Rahal, Sam Schmidt and Eddie Cheever. The move to Ganassi gives him the perspective of one more racing legend as he develops his racing craft.

Watch For.Bonus Tests: Testing rules allow IndyCar Series teams that field teams in the Indy Pro Series to accrue up to five bonus test days. This program could benefit Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon on the IndyCar Series side of the operation while also allowing Festa and Perez an opportunity to test an IndyCar Series car.


Mike Hull, team managing director: "Indy Pro Series testing has gone well for us and it has been positive leading up to the start of the season. It has actually been an eye-opening experience to see the professionalism of the series and their officials. As a first-year IPS team, the level of competition for a spec series has exceeded our expectations and we are just scratching the surface of learning about the Indy Pro Series brand. We have a high degree of respect for those teams that are running at the front. It is apparent that the attention to detail is the difference between first and second. We hope to be among them in the coming months.

"Where we are in terms of preparedness and progression in order to run at the front can't really be gauged until this first race at Homestead. A lot of what the series is about is the driver's ability to adapt. Chris Festa and Pablo Perez are the young future stars of open wheel and our intention is to showcase the ability they have."

Chris Festa, driver: "It's great to be back. The new team is really strong. We've been having a lot of fun with the guys. They know what they're doing. We have high expectations for the year. It's going to be a real tough year. We've got a lot of real good drivers coming back, a lot of good drivers coming in, a lot of new teams, so it's going to be a very difficult year. But we're feeling very confident that we're going to be able to go out there and really be competitive.

"This is a great opportunity for me as a driver to join a team of this caliber. Chip Ganassi has a great record of success in motorsports and the team always does everything first class. There will be a lot of testing opportunities for a young driver like myself. I can't wait to get out there and compete for race wins and the championship. I think I can be an asset and help my teammate and team to develop the program faster."

Pablo Perez, driver: "This is going to be a learning season for me. It is a big change coming from F3, and racing in South America is very different than the U.S. Pre-season testing so far has been challenging but I feel very good about the work we have done on ovals so far. We will need to develop the car a little more on the road courses. I am very excited about the start of the season. This is something I have been looking forward to for a long time. Racing in America has been a dream of mine since I was very young."