HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Chip Ganassi confirmed Friday he met with Danica Patrick and her representatives the past two days about running the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500 next season.
The car owner in NASCAR and IndyCar heartily endorses the concept announced Friday by Patrick, who plans to end her career after those two races, but Ganassi said negotiations weren’t far along.
“I think it’s a great idea for her to do that,” Ganassi told a small group of reporters after Cup qualifying at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “I think it’s a fabulous idea. I think it’s a fabulous marketing idea. It’s a fabulous opportunity.
“Obviously the business side of the deal has to work. I just learned about all this yesterday. That’s what has to be worked out. I’m a long way from saying, ‘Yes, I can do that.’”
Ganassi said Patrick’s team indicated it would be an option for her to do one or both races with his team. Asked by NBC Sports during her Friday news conference if she wanted to run both races with one team, Patrick said “that’s an option I suppose, but it doesn’t have to be.
“I think that when we’re talking about Daytona, it is what it is. There’s a lot of luck involved. To some degree, that doesn’t seem as critical. In IndyCar I think that it’s a little more, but I think there are probably a little bit more options as well. A little bit more flexibility there. I think it would make it easier, but I don’t think that it’s an absolute necessary.”
Ganassi and Roger Penske would be Patrick’s only options for running championship-caliber cars in both races with one team.
Penske wasn’t available for comment at Homestead-Miami Speedway most of Friday, but a Team Penske representative indicated the team hadn’t discussed the possibility with Patrick.
Would a one-team approach be the best option for running the two biggest races in the United States in the same season?
“That’s for her to decide,” Ganassi said. “I don’t know. I’m not the one doing it, she is. I would think it would be better to do it with one team.”
Because Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske don’t field the maximum allowable cars in Cup, they also would offer an option at Daytona that the four-car teams of Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing can’t (NASCAR rules preclude teams entering five cars, even for a one-off situation).
Ganassi deflected questions about whether Patrick would bring sponsorship (“I don’t talk about that kind of stuff and who brings what”) or if he would have the same crew if Patrick ran both races for his team. He also didn’t have a deadline for deciding on Daytona, which is three months away.
“That’s a good question,” he said. “Like I said, I just learned about all this yesterday and today.”
But he is interested?
“I need to know more to be interested,” he said. “I need to know more. I need to talk to my people. There’s a lot of moving parts on a deal like that.”
There would be even more logistics if Ganassi attempted to also field an Indy 500 entry in 2018 for Cup star Kyle Larson, who has said he wants to run the Brickyard in May and become the latest to attempt the NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader with the Coca-Cola 600.
“I haven’t even talked to him about it,” Ganassi said when asked about Larson running the Indianapolis 500 next year.
Ganassi’s IndyCar team is downsizing from four full-time entries to two next year. He wouldn’t rule out running Larson and Patrick at Indy next year but also added “I doubt I would do four (cars)” in the 102nd running of the race.