Top 10 Drivers to Have Ever Driven for Target Chip Ganassi's IndyCar Team

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIISeptember 29, 2011

Top 10 Drivers to Have Ever Driven for Target Chip Ganassi's IndyCar Team

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    Chip Ganassi is a very successful owner in all forms of motorsports.

    He has a successful NASCAR Sprint Cup organization, a Rolex Series organization, and his baby, the Izod IndyCar Series organization.

    Ganassi has won many championships and some big races in his career as an owner, including the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, the Brickyard 400, and the Indianapolis 500, and eight CART/IndyCar Series Championships.

    He's had many successful drivers race for him in CART/IndyCar Series.

    This is a list of the top ten.

10. Eddie Cheever, Jr.

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    Eddie Cheever, Jr. is a world-class driver.

    He's well known for his talents—not only in the old CART days, but also in Formula One.

    Cheever raced in 49 races for Ganassi from 1990-1992.  He never did land in victory lane, but he did have quite an impressive resume.

    Cheever had 12 Top 5s and 26 Top 10s in his short Ganassi career.

9. Arie Luyendyk

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    Arie Luyendyk is a two-time Indianapolis 500 Champion.

    Unfortunately, none of those came with the Ganassi organization.  Luyendyk was a solid driver for Ganassi, though.

    Luyendyk raced for Ganassi for one race in 1992 (Indianapolis) and a full season in 1993.

    In that '93 season, Luyendyk didn't have any wins, but had six Top 5s, 11 Top 10s and a second place finish in the Indianapolis 500.  Those 11 Top 10s in 18 races is quite impressive.

8. Michael Andretti

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    Many people forget about Michael Andretti's drive for Ganassi.

    Andretti returned to Indy Car racing from his Formula 1 stint in 1994, and drove for Ganassi before heading back to Newman/Hass in 1995.

    Andretti won two races that year.  To go along with those two wins, he had seven Top 5s and 10 Top 10s in 16 races.

7. Bruno Junqueira

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    It's weird to see Bruno ahead of those three famous Indy Car greats, but he had a better career at Ganassi than they did.

    Junqueira raced for Ganassi from 2001-2002.  He had three wins, 13 Top 5s, and 20 Top 10s in just 40 races.

    Junqueira's highlight came in his second-place finish in 2002's Championship.

6. Dan Wheldon

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    After winning the Indianapolis 500 and series Championship in 2005, Dan Wheldon bolted for Ganassi Racing.

    Wheldon raced for Ganassi from 2006-2008.

    Wheldon won six races in those three seasons.  He also had 25 Top 5s and 35 Top 10s in just 49 races.

    Wheldon was the runner-up in the 2006 series Championship.

5. Jimmy Vasser

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    Jimmy Vasser was the reason that Chip Ganassi Racing went from mediocre to great.

    Vasser raced for Ganassi from 1995-2000.  He was the 1996 CART Champion, which was Ganassi's first.

    Vasser also won nine career races for Ganassi, and had 40 Top 5s and 75 Top 10s.

    Vasser has the distinction of winning the 1996 US 500 at Michigan International Speedway.  That race was run on the same day as the Indianapolis 500 as CART's protest, since the Indy Racing League split that season.

4. Scott Dixon

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    The top four was almost a toss-up.

    Scott Dixon has a very solid career going for Ganassi.  He is the longest-tenured driver that Ganassi has ever had.

    Dixon has been with Ganassi since 2002 through the present day.

    Dixon has 25 career wins, 32 podium finishes, 42 Top 10s and the 2008 Indianapolis 500 Championship.

    Dixon was the 2003 and the 2008 Series Champion, as well.

3. Juan Pablo Montoya

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    Juan Pablo Montoya has raced in about everything in his career.

    His best years are arguably the two years he raced with Ganassi from 1999-2000 in CART.

    Montoya won 10 races, had 16 Top 5s and 21 Top 10s in just 40 races.  He also dominated the 2000 Indy 500 as a rookie and won.

    Montoya won the 1999 CART Championship as a rookie.

    Montoya left in 2001 for Formula 1, but returned in 2007 to NASCAR for Ganassi once again.

2. Dario Franchitti

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    Dario Franchitti could easily be number one by the end of his Ganassi career.

    Ganassi signed Franchitti in 2008 to join the NASCAR brigade.

    Needless to say, it was a blessing in disguise.  Franchitti struggled and Ganassi had him return to the IndyCar Series in 2009.

    Since then he has 12 wins, including the 2010 Indianapolis 500.

    To go along with those 12 wins, he has 38 Top 5s and 44 Top 10s in only 51 races.

    Franchitti is also the 2009 and 2010 series Champion.

1. Alex Zanardi

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    Alex Zanardi is the best driver to have ever driven a Ganassi Indy Car.

    Zanardi only raced for Ganassi from 1996-1998, but what he did in those three seasons was magical.

    Zanardi won 15 races, and had 31 Top 5s and 33 Top 10s in just 51 career races.  He also won back-to-back championships in 1997 and 1998.

    He contributed to the four straight championships for the Ganassi team—Jimmy Vasser won the Championship in 1996, Zanardi in 1997 and 1998, and Montoya in 2000.

    The late '90s were pure dominance for the Ganassi team, and Alex Zanardi was the key to it.

    Ganassi wouldn't be where he is today without having Zanardi's talents.