Tony Kanaan, NTT DATA latest to jump from Ganassi to Arrow McLaren SP in 2023
The curious case of Chip Ganassi Racing assets making their way to Arrow McLaren SP continues. Tuesday, AMSP announced that Tony Kanaan will man the team's fourth Indianapolis 500 entry next May. Kanaan finished third this year, battling his three now-teammates for the win that was eventually snagged by his ex-Ganassi teammate, Marcus Ericsson.
Kanaan told IndyStar last week he was still in talks with four teams about 500 rides in hopes of securing his second victory on the IMS oval and had even spoken with Chip Ganassi for an update on the team's plans last Tuesday. But McLaren was always the most likely option -- given the team's apparent readiness to pull the trigger, compared to Ganassi's still uncertain plans for its fourth full-season IndyCar entry, let alone a potential Indy 500 one-off.
Additionally last week, Kanaan told IndyStar his 22nd appearance in the 500 in 2023 would "probably be the last one," but that he's long given up declaring his exit from the sport ahead of time. His addition may spell the end of two-time winner Juan Pablo Montoya's run at the 500, after the Colombian driver served as AMSP's one-off driver in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing the last two years -- those rides in 2021 and 2022 coming after he'd be absent from the 500 since his 2017 run.
"I feel extremely lucky to get another shot racing in the Indy 500," Kanaan said in a release. "I'm excited to work with Pato (O'Ward), Felix (Rosenqvist) and Alexander (Rossi) and race with the Arrow McLaren SP team. My biggest battle in last year's race was against these three drivers, so working with them and driving with them will be exciting for all of us."
Joining Kanaan in his leap to AMSP for 2023 is his longtime primary sponsor during the bulk of his full-time run at Ganassi: NTT DATA. Kicking off a multi-year deal with AMSP, the global technology and business solutions company will be featured on Kanaan's currently un-numbered Chevy in the 500 and will also serve as the primary sponsor on Felix Rosenqvist's No. 6 Chevy for 10 of the season's 17 races in 2023. NTT DATA, whose parent company NTT serves as title sponsor for the IndyCar series, is now also AMSP's Official IT Services Partner and will land associate branding on the cars of O'Ward and Rossi throughout the season.
NTT DATA originally joined the series as Ganassi's primary sponsor on Ryan Briscoe's one-off Indy 500 ride in 2013 and grew to become a primary sponsor for Briscoe's full-time ride with CGR in 2014 in the No. 8. In 2015, the company shifted its sponsorship to Kanaan's No. 10, where it's been since, even after Kanaan's exit following 2017. The No. 10 Honda has since been driven by Ed Jones, Rosenqvist and 2021 champ Alex Palou -- who in turn, attempted to leave Ganassi after this season for a ride at AMSP but was sued by his team for breach of contract. The two sides eventually settled in private mediation and agreed to have Palou remain at Ganassi for the final year of his deal -- which includes a clause that precludes him from negotiating with other parties outside Ganassi about 2024 and beyond until early-September.
"We welcome the opportunity to partner with McLaren, a long-term and valued client, to demonstrate how sponsorships simultaneously build awareness and enhance business to business relationships," said Bob Pryor, CEO of NTT DATA Services in a release.
Added McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown: "NTT DATA joining our great group of partners is a huge boost for Arrow McLaren SP. I'm thrilled they'll be representing out No. 6 car as a lead partner and a major sponsor for our fourth entry in the Indy 500. Tony proved last year he can compete with the best of them, and I'm excited to see him put on a show with our team next May."