Photo: Chris Owens/INDYCAR

Chip Ganassi Racing Confirms Kanaan for 2021 Oval IndyCar Campaign

By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief

Tony Kanaan will get an extension on his NTT IndyCar Series career.

On Monday, Chip Ganassi Racing announced the 45-year-old Brazilian has signed a multi-year deal to drive the No. 48 Honda for the four oval events on the 2021 schedule. Kanaan will share the entry with seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, who will contest the 13 road and street course races.

Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner, was with CGR from 2014-2017, grabbing one win (Fontana, 2014) and 12 podiums during that span. He spent the past three years at AJ Foyt Racing, where he ran two full-time seasons prior to a partial six-race campaign in 2020.

The No. 48 entry will feature sponsorship by NTT DATA and Bryant, both longtime partners during Kanaan’s career. Kanaan joins a driver lineup that includes reigning and six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson, Alex Palou and Johnson.

“It’s hard to express in words how excited I am about this announcement,” said Kanaan, a 17-time race winner. “When Chip and I first started to talk about the opportunity to drive the ovals and share the No. 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 program once again with such great drivers in their lineup 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 honor.”

For team owner Chip Ganassi, the opportunity to reunite with Kanaan was obvious.

“As the Indy car driver market trends younger and younger, experience is something that cannot be taught – especially at the Indianapolis 500,” said Ganassi. “There is no one more experienced in the paddock than Tony, and when we needed the right fit for rounding out our oval program, 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 program. 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 No. 48.”

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Joey Barnes is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Motorsports Tribune. He has covered auto racing since 2013 that has spanned from Formula 1 to NASCAR, with coverage on IndyCar. Additionally, his work has appeared on Racer, IndyCar.com and Autoweek magazine. In 2017, he was recognized with an award in Spot News Writing by the National Motorsports Press Association.