McLaren eliminates Ganassi and Kanaan sponsor for Indy 500


The tit-for-tat war between Zak Brown and Chip Ganassi took another twist on Tuesday when Arrow McLaren SP announced it had signed both sponsor Ganassi and Tony Kanaan to race the Indianapolis 500.

Kanaan spent four seasons racing for Chip Ganassi Racing and the last two Indianapolis 500s. The 2003 winner finished third last May at Indy.

Kanaan will be sponsored by NTT DATA for its 22nd Indy 500, and the technology and business solutions provider will also be Felix Rosenqvist’s title sponsor for 10 races in the No. 6 Chevrolet.

NTT Data had been a sponsor of Ganassi since 2013 and was title sponsor of 2020 champion Alex Palou, who spent most of the IndyCar season locked in a battle to move from Ganassi to McLaren in 2023.

The mediation led to a resolution in which Palou would complete the remaining year on his Ganassi contract and could test for McLaren’s Formula One team. But Palou’s sponsor is heading to McLaren early; Palou cannot drive an Indy car for McLaren until his official move in 2024.

“We welcome the opportunity to partner with McLaren, a long-time and valued customer, and demonstrate how sponsorships simultaneously build brand awareness and improve business-to-business relationships,” said Bob Pryor, CEO of NTT Data Services.

Brown and Ganassi have been feuding for years, but it came to a new climax when Palou in July rebuked an announcement from Ganassi that the option on his 2023 contract had been taken. He said he was moving to McLaren instead, which led to several civil court filings and the ultimate resolution for Palou to end his contract with Ganassi.

In addition, McLaren team chairman Taylor Keil has left the organization and is expected to be announced as Ganassi manager as soon as his non-compete clause expires. Keil is the son-in-law of longtime Ganassi chief executive Mike Hull.

Kanaan, who has spent four of the past six years racing full-time IndyCar with Ganassi, is slowly heading into retirement. His third-place finish at Indy in May made the Brazilian want to return in 2023 at age 48.

“I feel extremely lucky to have another chance to race in the Indy 500,” said Kanaan, who will be part of McLaren’s first four-car Indy 500 lineup alongside Rosenqvist, Pato O’Ward and the 2015 winner Alexander Rossi.

“I’m delighted to be working with Pato, Felix and Alexander and racing with the Arrow McLaren SP team. My biggest battle in the race last year was against those three drivers, so working with them and racing with them will be exciting for all of us,” Kanaan said.

Rosenqvist began his IndyCar career with Ganassi and drove the NTT Data-sponsored No. 10 for two seasons. Rosenqvist moved to McLaren ahead of the 2021 season, the first year of NTT Data’s latest Ganassi contact extension, and Palou replaced Rosenqvist as the No.10 driver.

“I look forward to representing NTT DATA again,” said Rosenqvist. “They are a great partner and are committed to the show.”

AP Auto Racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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