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Chip Ganassi Racing has announced that IndyCar vet Takuma Sato will handle ovals for the team’s No. 11 Honda this season. That means that the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner will have a shot at a third spot on the Borg-Warner Trophy.
Sato will share the ride with rookie Marcus Armstrong who will tackle the series’ road and street circuits. Armstrong comes to IndyCar after finishing P13 in Formula 2 last year.
“First of all, I would like to thank Chip and Mike for helping put this all together. I am extremely excited to join Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2023 season,” Sato said in the team’s statement. “The organization has been at the top of our sport for decades and needless to say, extremely competitive.”
He’s not kidding. CGR is coming off of an Indy 500 win just last season with Marcus Ericcson bringing home the win. His teammate, legendary six-time champ Scott Dixon led almost half the race and could have easily won the race if it weren’t for a speeding penalty in the pitlane.
Sato is a great choice to handle ovals, but it could also point to him being a possible dark horse in this year’s Indianapolis 500.
After several seasons at Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan Racing — including one in which he took home an Indy 500 win — Sato spent last season At Dale Coyne Racing. That’s a smaller team, though still capable of overperforming.
At last year’s Indianapolis 500, Sato managed to qualify in the top 10. All three of his CGR teammates for this year — Dixon, Ericcson, and 2021 champ Alex Palou — qualified in the top 5. Former CGR driver Jimmie Johnson managed to qualify P12.
Yeah, those are all talented drivers, but clearly, Ganassi had those cars dialed in. With the resources that Ganassi has, expect those cars to be on rails come May once again.
Wild Thing, as he’s known knows his way around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and with an upper echelon car and team at his disposable, I know I won’t be shocked to see the 45-year-old (He’ll be 46 come race day) up front on Memorial Day weekend.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle