Ganassi Racing signs Tony Kanaan and switches to Chevrolet power in 2014

Constituents of the Chip Ganassi - Tony Kanaan press conference in Houston - John Cote

Chip Ganassi Racing made official the signing of defending Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan and also announced a switch from Honda to Chevrolet next season.

Chip Ganassi made two announcements on Friday morning during a track delay at the Grand Prix of Houston.

The first was the long-expected signing of Tony Kanaan to drive for the team's IndyCar program beginning in 2014 while the other was a shocking announcement that Kanaan and his new teammates would drive Chevrolets next season.

The Ganassi defection away from Honda is sure to come as a surprise to the IndyCar community for a variety of reasons. First is their long partnership together that has produced eight of the team's nine Indy car championships and three of its four Indianapolis 500 triumphs.

The looming partnership also appears to put Chevrolet over the 40 percent of the field threshold that IndyCar set as a contractual limit but the manufacturer and team say they will be able to go over that number.

But the move also makes sense for Ganassi Racing as they are also teamed together in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  And as a team with championship ambitions each season, the "Bowtie Brigade" appears to have the winning hand, especially on high speed ovals this season.

"This thing happened pretty quick with Chevrolet," Ganassi said. "They have shown they have a great product and we wanted to be a part of it. It's something for our team to consolidate our manufacturers and be part of a winning effort.

"We've had some great races and years with Honda, but opportunity came about to be with Chevrolet and they showed a sincere effort in wanting us to be part of their program."

Ganassi will again expand to four cars with the signing of Kanaan and the defending Indianapolis 500 champion will be paired with Charlie Kimball at the team's Brownsburg, Ind. race shop. The Target Ganassi cars will continue to be driven by Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon next season.

The pairing gives Ganassi one of the most dynamic teams in the paddock and gives Kanaan a fighting chance to win regain a championship he first (and last) won in 2004. The team will be sponsored by NTT Data, the same organization that sponsored Kanaan when he drove for Ganassi in the Grand-Am race at Indianapolis this summer, the first time he had driven a car for Chip Ganassi.

Despite the fact that their formal relationship didn't begin until that day, Kanaan says the seeds for a partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing were planted over a decade ago.

"I would go back to 1998 to the first time we talked," Kanaan said. "So it's been more than five years.

"When the sponsor left the last team I drove for, I remember walking into (Ganassi team manager) Mike Hull's office to see if we could do something together. The opportunities are there every day. If I didn't think about it, that means I don't think about winning races. I wanted to be with the best teams with the best guys, who have been beating me forever."

Now he'll have that chance and he's looking to make the best of it.

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