SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — Chip Ganassi claims he isn't spending much time thinking about IndyCar's long-term future while he's still busy chasing another championship.
While Ganassi is aware of a report claiming several team owners are lining up investors to buy IndyCar, the powerful owner said Friday he's more focused on the final three races of the season.
"That was news to me as well," Ganassi said. "I think one way or the other, IndyCar's future is bright. ... I don't think the fans come out to see who owns the series. I think they come out to see the drivers, the cars, the excitement, the passing, the race itself. I don't know that that's news."
Ganassi almost certainly would be privy to any talks about purchasing the circuit, which were reported by Speed.com as part of a plan to take control of IndyCar in a bid to oust CEO Randy Bernard. IndyCar is owned by the Hulman-George family, and Bernard reports to a board of directors.
Bernard took over IndyCar in 2010, but has been under scrutiny and pressure from team owners for most of this season, most notably during the week leading up to the Indianapolis 500. Owners have cited multiple reasons they're unhappy with Bernard, even while the CEO is working on a long-term strategy he says is necessary to grow IndyCar into a viable series.
"I have heard and read different stories, and my focus is only on completing this year, next year and our long-term strategy at IndyCar," Bernard told the AP in a phone interview Thursday. "I'm very optimistic about the future of IndyCar."
Ganassi doesn't seem concerned about the rampant speculation around Bernard's future overshadowing the final month of an exciting championship chase.
"I haven't really thought about it," Ganassi said when asked why speculation on the circuit's future has been so prominent lately. "I'm sure all the usual reasons, but, you know, on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, that stuff's not on my radar screen. I'm here to race. We're here to win the race. We're here to win the championship."
Perhaps the most contentious issue is the rising cost of racing in IndyCar. The circuit's exclusive deal with chassis manufacturer Dallara forces teams to buy spare parts at what the teams claim are exorbitant markups.
Ganassi seemed hopeful IndyCar and Dallara will agree to a better deal soon.
"There was something last week," Ganassi said. "I'm not 100 percent sure what it was, but I think the parties are getting closer to a resolution."
The busy Ganassi is still hopeful his team can pull out another series victory, even heading into a weekend on a track long dominated by Roger Penske's team.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing's highest-ranking driver is Scott Dixon, currently fourth with 351 points behind Will Power's 379.
"It's certainly doable," Ganassi said. "Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I think we've got as good a shot as anybody."
Ganassi's three-time defending IndyCar champion, Dario Franchitti, is only mathematically alive in contention with 271 points, with a nearly impossible leapfrog necessary to win a fourth straight title.
"I still put our team up against anybody else's," Ganassi said. "The fact of the matter is, (Franchitti) won the Indy 500, as I recall, and ... we're still happy about that. That's a pretty big thing. If you had to pick (the overall title or the Indianapolis 500), I don't know, it's going to be a tough pick. I think I might take the Indy 500."
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