In a move that feels very much full circle, Ryan Briscoe will return to the Indianapolis 500 this year in a car fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing. The move reunites the veteran driver with Ganassi, the successful owner that first gave him a shot in the IndyCar Series way back in 2005.
Briscoe was left without a full-time seat after last season and was negotiating with several teams about competing at Indianapolis. Briscoe is the defending pole sitter of the race and finished fifth.
The Australian was long-rumored to join the Ganassi operation for the month of May but an agreement was not formally reached until two weeks ago at Barber Motorsports Park.
Briscoe is competing at Long Beach this weekend but not in the IndyCar Series. Since losing his ride at Team Penske last season, Briscoe has joined Level 5 Racing in the American Le Mans Series which will complete the undercard at the legendary temporary street circuit in California.
Briscoe and Ganassi Management Director Mike Hull both fielded questions from the media on Friday at Long Beach and expressed an eagerness to work together over the next month leading up to the 97th 500-mile race.
Briscoe recalled that he had a "great experience" with Ganassi at Indianapolis in 2005 -- he started 24th and finished 10th -- and hopes to make the most of his reunion. He explained that he's not disappointed about losing his full-time ride in IndyCar and believes it's opened several doors in his professional career this season.
"This deal probably wouldn't have come together if things would have gone differently," Briscoe said. "So maybe this is meant to be. I'm excited. I'm very happy with the way that things are going. Every time I'm in a race car, I just want to do my best and make my best impression and move forward."
Team Ganassi is just relieved to be able to partner with a driver the caliber of Ryan Briscoe. He finished sixth in the season championship for Penske last season and has seven career victories in IndyCar overall.
"What Chip Ganassi racing has always been is us trying to have drivers at the caliber of Ryan drive our race cars," Hull said. "So it's important for us to have accomplished, very well-represented race car drivers -- and now we have a fourth one for the Indy 500."
Briscoe joins a stacked Ganassi Race Team that also features defending Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Charlie Kimball.