Chip Ganassi signs Ryan Briscoe, moves Tony Kanaan to No. 10

Nick Laham

Chip Ganassi completed a dream team on Friday team that will include Tony Kanaan replacing Dario Franchitti in the No. 10 Target car, reigning champion Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Charlie Kimball.

And so ends the highest profile driver search in the history of the IndyCar Series.

Ryan Briscoe was announced as the newest full-time driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing Teams stable but it will be Tony Kanaan that will replace the recently retired Dario Franchitti inn the Target No. 10 Chevrolet next season.

The flurry of movement was predicated by the unexpected retirement of the four-time IndyCar Series champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, who was injured in a crash on the last lap of the Grand Prix of Houston. The accident occurred when his car made contact with another and was sent violently into the catch-fence and breaking his right ankle, fracturing his spine and giving him a concussion.

While Franchitti is expected to make a full recovery, his doctors advised him to cease his racing career or risk permanent or long-term damage.

Kanaan was originally hired by Ganassi Racing Teams on Oct. 4 to serve as a teammate to Franchitti, reigning IndyCar champion Scott Dixon and Charlie Kimball. With Franchitti stepping out of the cockpit for good, team owner Chip Ganassi was tasked with finding a driver to fill the shoes of his perennial championship contender.

As it turns out, he already had that driver under contract in Kanaan and was able to sign Briscoe to the No. 8 after having him in that car during the month of May.

"It is always refreshing when you have partners that get the big picture and both Target and NTT DATA both understand that," Ganassi said. "This is the best of both worlds. We not only get the driver that we wanted to add to our team in Ryan Briscoe but in addition we are able to put them in the cars that I felt were the most appropriate."

While Kanaan says he is excited to join the team that won three championships in a row from 2009-2011 and won the 2012 Indianapolis 500, he also called it a bittersweet moment, considering the circumstances surrounding his hire.

"I was looking forward to reuniting with (Dario) more than anything as a teammate," Kanaan said. "I want to thank NTT DATA, Target and TNT Energy drink for looking at the big picture and making adjustments so that Scott, Ryan, Charlie and I can go out and get the job done for all our partners on track next season."

Briscoe ran only a partial IndyCar schedule in 2013, one season after he was unable to re-up with Penske Racing. In addition to running the Indianapolis 500 for Ganassi, he also made six spot starts for Panther Racing while competing full-time in the American La Mans series for Level 5 Motorsports.

The Aussie was expected to return to Panther full-time next season but the lack of a clear sponsorship program in place at the team, combined with the sudden Franchitti retirement, allowed Briscoe to turn his one-off drive for Ganassi into something more.

It allowed him to return home to the team he made his IndyCar Series debut for back in 2005.

"This is just great news and I can't wait to get back behind the wheel of the No. 8 car again," Briscoe said. "We built some great chemistry during the month of May this year with the whole crew. I think all four drivers can win races next season and it's not every day you get to be a part of a team like that."

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