Ganassi signs Ryan Briscoe to run Indianapolis 500

Ryan Briscoe to return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Chip Ganassi Racing

Associated Press

Ryan Briscoe will return to the Indianapolis 500 this year in a car fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing.

The long-rumored pairing wasn't completed until last weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, and will be formally announced by the Ganassi organization Friday.

But Ganassi confirmed the hiring Thursday night to The Associated Press, and said Briscoe will drive the No. 8 Honda with sponsorship from IT services and consulting company NTT Data.

"A guy like that shouldn't be sitting on the sidelines," Ganassi told AP. "He sat on the pole last year at the speedway. He should be in the race."

Briscoe won the pole for the 500 last season driving for Penske Racing and tied his career-best fifth-place finish. The Australian parted with Penske at the end of the season — AJ Allemendinger is scheduled to drive Briscoe's pole-winning car next month at Indy — and doesn't have any IndyCar rides currently lined up beyond the 500. The deal with Ganassi is currently only for the Indy 500.

Briscoe has seven career victories in the IndyCar Series, including a win last year at Sonoma. He drove for Ganassi in 2005, but was injured late that season in a crash at Chicago that brought his time with the team to an end.

Briscoe has seven career starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and three top-10 finishes. He was fifth last year and in 2007.

Ganassi had room to field a fourth driver in the Indy 500, which was won last year by Ganassi driver Dario Franchitti. Graham Rahal's departure from the organization left an available car, but Ganassi said he wasn't looking for anyone until he found out recently that Briscoe didn't have anything else lined up.

"We weren't actively trying to do a fourth car," Ganassi said. "It was a case of maybe if something happens, we'd consider doing it if it wouldn't take away from the team. We don't think this is going to take away from the team, and we are just going take these opportunities as they come and look at each situation individually."

Briscoe was with the Level 5 Motorsports team that won its class last month at the 12 Hours of Sebring ALMS race. He could also run the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Level 5.

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