However, he also remains realistic, as despite having arguably the best cars at Indy over the past two years, the most recent of his team’s four 500 wins came as far back as 2012.
Nevertheless, with his drivers lining up first (Scott Dixon), second (Alex Palou), fifth (Marcus Ericsson), sixth (Tony Kanaan) and 12e (Indy 500 rookie Jimmie Johnson), this is arguably the team’s greatest opportunity to add a fifth 500 crown.
“You’re always tempted to feel good about the race at this point,” said Ganassi, who made his Indy debut as a driver 40 years ago. “But I will say that I probably feel as good as any car owner should feel going into the race.
“That said, we still have to perform, we still have to do all the things you have to do in the race. But I’d be surprised if anyone is more confident than we are now. I think our cars are good, our drivers are doing a great job.”
When asked if he would say it’s his team’s race to lose, Ganassi replied: “That’s up to you to decide. I don’t know. I don’t look at it in those terms at all.”
He continued: “I’m trying to remember the last time a team had a lot of cars that were so competitive. Obviously Roger had three, Andretti maybe over the years…
“But we still have to run the race, we still have to go in and out of the pits, we still have to go through the start and restarts… There is still a long way to go. But again, we feel as good as anyone should feel.”
The Chip Ganassi Racing Hondas’ consistently excellent pace and stability in dirty air was remarkable during practice sessions, and even before qualifying, several rival drivers believed Ganassi’s team was the one to beat this year. The man himself suggested that the qualifying performance was simply a natural result of the engineers’ efforts to come up with strong cars for Sunday’s 106.e run of the Indy 500.
“I think we’re all realistic about what a good qualifying means for the race – not much,” he said. “So we were focused on getting race cars that will race well and go from there.”
In last Sunday’s Top 12 battle to determine which drivers would advance to the Firestone Fast Six shootout, Johnson made a hugely impressive save in Turn 1 when his car fishtails millimeters from the SAFER barrier, but it sapped his speed. . Ganassi summed up the moment as “a corner from us with five cars in the Fast Six,” but praised the seven-time NASCAR champion ahead of his Indy 500 debut.
“It was a shame, but Jimmie is a champion, he is a professional, he just took it on his foot,” he said. “We couldn’t be happier with the work he does.”