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Briscoe to race for Ganassi in Indy 500

| Friday, April 12, 2013, 2:24 p.m.

Ryan Briscoe, who captured the pole at last year's Indianapolis 500, signed an agreement Friday with Target Chip Ganassi Racing to compete in this year's race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The addition of Briscoe strengthens an already powerful IndyCar Series team in pursuit of its sixth victory at the Brickyard on May 26. Briscoe teams with Dario Franchitti, who won his third Indianapolis 500 last year, 2008 champion Scott Dixon and Charlie Kimball.

Briscoe considered offers from several other teams, but Ganassi appealed to his competitive instincts. Briscoe said he figured he'll be challenged by a team of drivers with whom he's often battled during his eight-year career.

“We put my name out there a little bit, and certainly there was a lot of interest,” Briscoe said. “When the offer came from Ganassi, it became priority No. 1 for us to close a deal.

“I've been racing against these guys for quite a few years. It's great to be teammates with guys who have won Indy. I'm sure they're hungry to win more, and I'm hungry to get my first win at Indianapolis.”

Briscoe, who spent the past five seasons with Team Penske, will pilot the No. 8 Honda. Briscoe, who twice had career-best finishes of fifth at the Brickyard, replaces Graham Rahal, who switched to Rahal-Letterman Racing earlier this year.

“We couldn't believe Ryan was available,” CGRT managing director Mike Hull said on TribLive Radio.

Surprisingly, Roger Penske did not re-sign Briscoe for this IndyCar Series season, mostly because of a lack of sponsors. Still, Team Penske expects to be among the favorites with three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves and perennial title contender Will Power.

“It's really cool to be coming back where it all started for me,” said Briscoe, who spent the 2005 season with CGRT. “I'm more knowledgeable of the sport, and I'm coming on to a team where there a lot of familiar faces. These are a lot of the same guys working on the cars when I was last there.

“We'll get down to business at Indy quickly. Having Scott, Dario and Charlie as teammates, I look forward to working with them.”

Ganassi, who seeks his 100th IRL victory at next weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, didn't hesitate to bring back Briscoe, who has started on the front row three times at the Brickyard.

“We all know Ryan is a talented driver, having had him in our Indy car system previously,” Ganassi said. “He will get up to speed quickly because he understands the ins and outs of how we operate our race program.

“The opportunity to have him back in a fourth car with us alongside Dario, Scott and Charlie is big.”

Briscoe hopes to be an ideal teammate for a team that's expected to challenge every weekend. Kimball is off to a fast start and is sixth in points, and Dixon is second behind Castroneves.

Briscoe is uncertain about his future beyond the Indianapolis 500, but there's little doubt he's bolstered CGRT's chances of winning at Indianapolis for the third time in four years.

“I'm really excited. I couldn't ask for a better opportunity and have the potential to win the race,” Briscoe said. “I look forward to the challenge, which it is every year.”

Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rpaulk@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RalphPaulk_Trib.

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