Monday, December 18, 2017
Sports

Ganassi drivers battle to salvage solid finishes

ST. PETERSBURG — Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing traded barbs last week, with Penske president Tim Cindric comparing the IndyCar's powerhouse teams to the Yankees and Marlins.

Penske's Yankees won Sunday, placing two drivers in the top three. But Ganassi's Marlins weren't too far behind.

Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon battled car problems to finish in the top six, and Ganassi overcame a handful of other problems to place three of its cars in the top 10.

"Hard," Kanaan called his team debut. "Really hard."

Kanaan began by embracing the expectations of his prized No. 10 car by hugging its previous driver, Dario Franchitti, just before hopping into the cockpit. A concussion sustained in a race last year forced Franchitti, the four-time series champion, to retire during the offseason.

Four laps into his new ride, Kanaan had his first major problem.

The defending Indianapolis 500 champion moved a knob that helps his car save fuel. The piece broke. Kanaan estimated the mechanical failure cost his car a half-second per lap — and a couple of spots on the track.

"When you have a bad day and you have problems and you finish sixth, it's pretty good," Kanaan said.

Dixon had his usual steady, consistent race to take fourth. The defending series champion never led but ran in the top 10 all day.

Dixon said his No. 9 car was hard to drive, and he got off-strategy by pitting early. His team is still adjusting to Honda engines after switching from Chevrolet in the offseason, and Dixon said his car was fast but not blazing.

"I definitely had to hold on," Dixon said. "It was a hell of a workout."

But considering the struggles Dixon has had here — including a run of four consecutive finishes outside the top 15, a 20th-place qualifying run last year and no victories — he wouldn't complain too much. The three-time series champion left with an intact car and a fourth-place standing in the points race.

"We finished, and that's the main thing," Dixon said. "We've had some pretty dreadful runs here."

Ganassi newcomer Ryan Briscoe ran into problems of his own. The 2009 Grand Prix winner hit Penske's Juan Pablo Montoya exiting the pits and damaged the front of his No. 8 car. Briscoe, a former Penske racer, held on for 10th to snap a streak of eight finishes of 12th or worse.

Although the final Ganassi driver, Charlie Kimball, had mechanical problems and finished 20th, Kanaan said he was pleased his team had a solid points day — one that kept Penske from pulling too far ahead.

"It's great for the championship," said Kanaan, who won the series title in 2004. "It's going to be a tight one, so we need to take any points we can get. For all the problems we had during the day, it was a great result."

Matt Baker can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @MattHomeTeam.

Monday, March 31, 2014 , Section C | 

 
Comments
Bucs picked up club option on Jason Lichtís contract for 2018 earlier this year, but GMís future still not clear

Bucs picked up club option on Jason Lichtís contract for 2018 earlier this year, but GMís future still not clear

Bucs general manager Jason Licht did not receive a contract extension after the team went 9-7 last season. Instead, the Glazer family which owns the Bucs decided to pick up a one-year club option on Licht’s contract for 2018. That happened some...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Jim Leavitt isnít coming back to Florida after all

Jim Leavitt isnít coming back to Florida after all

Former USF coach Jim Leavitt isn't coming back to the state after all.Sports Illustrated reported late Sunday evening that Leavitt will remain at Oregon as its defensive coordinator – a position that will earn him a cool $1.7 million annually. ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The future of Dirk Koetter

The future of Dirk Koetter

Three games. That's how many the Bucs have left. Can the same be said for Dirk Koetter's head coaching career?The answer to that question might be determined by what happens in those three games.If the Bucs lose the rest – and that is more like...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bulls expected to sign at least 6 (and possibly more) this week

Bulls expected to sign at least 6 (and possibly more) this week

At least a half-dozen high school seniors — and possibly more — are expected to sign with USF when the NCAA's new 72-hour early signing period for football commences Wednesday.Homestead South Dade TE Chris Carter Jr., a three-star prospec...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
HomeTeam 25: Girls basketball rankings for Tampa Bay

HomeTeam 25: Girls basketball rankings for Tampa Bay

1. Lakewood (10-0)This week: Friday at OsceolaThe buzz: The Spartans have been blowing teams out, but things will get harder over the winter break when they play in the Florida Prospects tournament in Orlando. Senior forward Toi Smith has missed a fe...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Bucs-Falcons: Predicting tonightís Monday Night Football Game

Bucs-Falcons: Predicting tonightís Monday Night Football Game

MONDAY NIGHT FRIGHTS Tom Jones, @tomwjones: The Falcons are playing for something. The Bucs are playing out the string. And, well, the Falcons are way better than Tampa Bay. On paper, this game won't be close. It won't be on the field either. If the ...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Photo gallery: FIU, Temple compete in lawn mower race at Busch Gardens

Photo gallery: FIU, Temple compete in lawn mower race at Busch Gardens

Members of the Florida International University and Temple football teams participated in a lawn mower race Monday at Busch Gardens as part of the festivities leading up to Thursdayís Gasparilla Bowl at Tropicana Field.Head coaches Butch Davis of FIU...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead, but so did the Bucs

The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead, but so did the Bucs

The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in last season's Super Bowl, and no one will let them forget it.Including the Bucs.During a playful exchange on Twitter in May, Tampa Bay trolled its division rivals by posting a photo of Vernon Hargreaves, No. 28, and Ja...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs Ring of Honor: Which current player will make it?

Bucs Ring of Honor: Which current player will make it?

With Jon Gruden becoming the 11th member of the Bucs’ Ring of Honor tonight, what about current members of the Bucs?Bucs roundtable question: What current Bucs player not named Gerald McCoy is most likely to wind up in the Ring of Honor. Member...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs defense vs. Matt Ryan: What to expect tonight

Bucs defense vs. Matt Ryan: What to expect tonight

Atlanta and Matt Ryan are in town to face the Bucs on Monday Night Football, so it's a chance to revisit a quarterback Tampa Bay knows well, with 19 meetings over the past 10 seasons. A couple of talking points for tonight's game and the challenge ah...
Updated: 2 hours ago