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Chip Ganassi made the right decision to hire Ryan Briscoe

Chip Ganassi Racing received inquiries from over 50 drivers about joining the team next season but made the right call in hiring Ryan Briscoe and moving Tony Kanaan to the vacant Target car.


Ryan Briscoe returned home in a sense on Friday morning with the official announcement that he would be returning to the IndyCar Series full-time next season with Chip Ganassi Racing in the No. 8 entry he drove during the month of May.

In the short term, the signing of Briscoe makes a lot of sense. There was nothing ideal about the sudden retirement of Dario Franchitti, the incident leaving the Ganassi powerhouse somewhat exposed coming off yet another championship with Scott Dixon.

The turn of events left team owner Chip Ganassi pondering the immediate future of his team and the decision to instill a veteran or a hire heralded prospect for the much coveted Target car.

While many fans were hopeful he would hire a young American like Conor Daly or an ace like Justin Wilson, the team made the right choice in hiring Briscoe and installing Kanaan in the Target car.

As always, Ganassi will be the favorite to win another championship in 2014 but the risk of having to get a rookie or new driver up to speed would surely have taken away from the team's championship designs.

Briscoe drove with Ganassi during the 2005 season and again in May. Additionally, his tenure with Penske Racing leaves him perfectly prepared to deal with the pressure cooker that is racing for a championship in the IndyCar Series.

Most of Briscoe's detractors will point to the fact that in eight seasons, he has 111 starts but has only seven wins, 12 poles and a best championship finish of third in the 2009 championship.

But Briscoe, alongside Kanaan, will provide veteran leadership needed to stabilize the team in the aftereffect of Franchitti's departure. Beyond that, Ganassi already has a young prospect in place with Charlie Kimball, who is coming off his best season, scoring his first win at Mid-Ohio and finishing ninth in the final standings.

The veteran leadership provided by his teammates, both old and new, will greatly benefit his ambitions to make the jump from IndyCar race winner to annual championship contender.

At the end of the day, Briscoe may end up being a stop-gap until drivers like Daly, Wilson or James Hinchcliffe become available. Or he may have the best season of his career next year and find a home at Ganassi Racing.

In either case, Ganassi made the right decision by hiring him for 2014.