TK’s Last Lap will go on for a while longer.
2004 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan will return to Chip Ganassi Racing as part of a multi-year deal to drive the No. 48 Honda entry in the four ovals on the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES calendar, complementing the 13 road and street course events being contested by seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson.
“It’s hard to express in words how excited I am about this announcement,” said Kanaan, a 17-time winner in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. “When Chip and I first started to talk about the opportunity to drive the ovals and share the No. 48 with Jimmie Johnson I couldn’t imagine that we would reach an agreement this fast. Chip Ganassi Racing is at the pinnacle of motorsports in North America and being able to be part of the program once again with such great drivers in their lineup is a dream come true.”
Longtime Ganassi and Kanaan partner NTT DATA and Bryant, another longtime sponsor of Kanaan and former sponsor of CGR, also return to the team. Both companies have primary sponsorship as well as associate-level relationships on the No. 48 Honda and other CGR entries.
“I've also been very fortunate to enjoy great relationships with my sponsors throughout my career and having companies like Bryant and NTT DATA supporting me once again is a testament to that,” Kanaan said. “Both Bryant and NTT DATA have been with me through different teams, wins and even life events. Being able to continue to represent these companies is truly an honor.”
NTT DATA began its relationship with CGR in 2013 at the Indianapolis 500 partnering on the No. 8 NTT DATA entry and Kanaan first competed with CGR in 2013 in an NTT DATA-backed Daytona Prototype fielded in the Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he drove to a second-place finish.
NTT DATA maintained an associate partnership with CGR on the No. 83 Indy car, became a primary partner on the No. 8 entry for the 2014 season, and then on the No. 10 entry, driven by Kanaan, in 2015 and has been on that car ever since. It will serve as primary sponsor of Kanaan's car at World Wide Technology Raceway, Johnson at Toronto and on Alex Palou's car in multiple races in 2021, including at St. Petersburg, Indianapolis, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and Texas.
“This has been a tremendous partnership from a sponsorship perspective and from a technological standpoint over the years,” NTT DATA Services Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer David Croxville said. “Building and cultivating relationships with our clients is the foundation of our business. The partnership with a championship-winning organization that features unparalleled access to an incredibly talented group of drivers allows us to create unforgettable experiences with and for our clients and partners.
“We are thrilled to welcome back Tony to Chip Ganassi Racing and for NTT DATA to have the opportunity to reunite with him. Tony has been an outstanding ambassador for NTT DATA over the years and remains an integral part of our company’s legacy in the sport, including driving the NTT DATA car at Ganassi from 2015-17. All NTT DATA Racing fans will look forward to having one of the sport’s most popular drivers represent us again.”
Bryant has a rich tradition in auto racing and is the longest-standing non-automotive sponsor at the Indianapolis 500. Legends like Eddie Sachs, Roger Ward, Cale Yarborough, Scott Brayton, Chip Ganassi, Stan Fox and Janet Guthrie have all driven under the Bryant Racing banner, earning a total of 16 previous race victories on other tracks. The 2021 season will mark the 14th of 15 NTT INDYCAR SERIES seasons during which Bryant has worked with Kanaan.
“We’re excited to extend our relationship with Tony for the 2021 season,” said Justin Keppy, President, North America Residential & Light Commercial, Bryant. “Bryant has been a long-time supporter of Tony, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and the Indianapolis 500 and we’re pleased that it will continue. Tony embodies all of the qualities that the Bryant brand stands for, including our mantra of always doing Whatever it Takes® in order to get the job done. Our racing sponsorship is something that our distributors and dealers really enjoy and we’re looking forward to sharing it with them next year.”
Kanaan forms a solid driver lineup for Chip Ganassi Racing alongside Johnson, six-time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion and Indianapolis 500 Winner Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson and CGR newcomer Alex Palou.
“As the Indy car driver market trends younger and younger, experience is something that cannot be taught – especially at the Indianapolis 500,” said Chip Ganassi, Team Owner, Chip Ganassi Racing: There is no one more experienced in the paddock than Tony, and when we needed the right fit for rounding out our oval program, it was clear he was the right choice. We are very familiar with NTT DATA and Bryant over the years and are excited to have both companies back with this program. Tony also knows our team, he knows our system and he knows our drivers. We expect the combination of him and Jimmie to give us the one-two punch we’re looking for in the No. 48.”