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Ganassi going for unprecedented double at Indianpolis Speedway Sunday

Posted: May 28, 2010 4:23 p.m.
Updated: May 28, 2010 4:20 p.m.
 

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Chip Ganassi won't choose which trophy - Daytona or Indianapolis - means more.

Come Sunday, he'd rather sip the milk out of both.

If Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti or Townsend Bell wins the Indianapolis 500, Ganassi would become the first team owner to win the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500 in the same season.

"It would be something, wouldn't it?" Ganassi said. "It's certainly crossed my mind. But I try to stay focused on the job at hand and let other people think about those kind of things."

He's not the first to pursue an unprecedented IndyCar-NASCAR double.

A.J. Foyt had a chance to win both races as a driver in 1972. Several drivers, including John Andretti and Tony Stewart, have tried to win Indy and the Coca-Cola 600 in the same day. Two years ago, Ganassi's longtime IndyCar nemesis, Roger Penske, tried to complete his own triple crown by winning Indy, Daytona and Sebring in the same year.

Dixon scuttled those celebration plans, winning the 500 by nearly 1.75 seconds.

Now Penske might be ready for payback.

"Roger Penske tried it and Chip ruined it for him, so I think Roger probably wants to ruin it for Chip," said John Andretti, a NASCAR regular who is making his 11th career Indy start. "But it's amazing to even have a shot at being able to do that, to be that competitive in both series."

The man with a record 15 Indy wins as team owner has been gracious about Ganassi's latest chase.

"Chip has a chance to win this race just like we did a couple of years ago, and it would be a great credit to him," Penske said.

Ganassi has spent decades chasing Penske, first in the IndyCar Series, then in NASCAR and Champ Car.

They are the only two owners to win Daytona and Indy, and they are the only two running full-time in both of America's major series.

Along the way, Ganassi's teams have steadily improved, becoming increasingly more competitive.

Jamie McMurray grabbed the Daytona 500 victory in February, and now Ganassi is looking for his fourth Indy 500 win.

"I don't mean to be short with you about talking about Daytona versus Indy or whatever, but that's not why I'm here," Ganassi said. "I'm here because I want to win, and I want to win the next race."

So, too, does team Penske.

"When this weekend is over, we want everyone talking about Roger Penske, not Chip Ganassi or anyone else," said Ryan Briscoe, another Penske drivers. "We're here to win it, nothing else."

Most expect the race to be a two-team duel.

Helio Castroneves has created most of the buzz after a gutsy qualifying run. Tied for second all-time with four Indy poles, he has reclaimed the title of race favorite as he tries to win a record-tying fourth 500. If he does, Castroneves would be the first Indy driver to post back-to-back wins twice and the fastest to four wins.

Castroneves and teammate Will Power have won three races this season. Dixon won the series' first oval race, at Kansas, on May 1, and Franchitti is the 2007 race winner and defending series champ.

The Penske and Ganassi drivers hold five of the top six starting spots in the 33-car lineup, and the only driver starting outside the first two rows is Bell, who is racing for the first time this season in a car co-owned by Ganassi and Sam Schmidt. He'll start 10th, the inside of Row 4. If he wins, it would count toward Ganassi's double.

How big would another Indy win be?

NASCAR sent the Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 Perpetual Trophy from Florida to Indianapolis so it could be displayed side-by-side with Indy's famous Borg-Warner Trophy through Monday - rekindling images of the America's Cup trophy being unbolted from its longtime home in Rhode Island.

"I think it would be tremendous," Franchitti said. "But I think Chip looks at each like it's own separate entity. We can't do any more than what we've done any other year here."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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