Chip Ganassi is an intriguing interview subject. He is engaging and introspective on subjects that please him or in response to a question he feels displays knowledge or credibility. He can also be evasive or simply intractable if any of those criteria are not met.
Ganassi was all of those at various times during a lengthy scrum with a small group of media at St. Petersburg on Friday, waxing about the future of the Izod IndyCar Series, his team's multi-sport success, how disappointed Juan Pablo Montoya was that rain in Martinsville was keeping a fast No. 42 Chevrolet off the track. Ganassi joking and gabbing disarms the room.
Then a reporter, already thinking better of it, prefaced a question by saying he hated to preface a question with "Paul Tracy said," leading into a query about the value sponsors can currently glean from Indy car teams. The 41-year-old former CART champion has bemoaned on Twitter that he and the likes of Graham Rahal lack full-time rides (in Tracy's case, for three years) while drivers like Milka Duno are in the series. Tracy has evened engaged in a comical tweet war with a fake Milka Duno.
Ganassi's face seized. Cue the brutal candor.
"What the ----'s the last thing Paul Tracy ever did in racing?" he asked. "That's what I want to know. I mean, I like Paul. He's a nice guy, but let's stay current. Can we stay current?"
Reporter redacts Tracy from the preface and asks again.
"The day I start listening to Paul Tracy talk about value for your money I'm in trouble," Ganassi continues.
Reporter cites Ganassi's possible knowledge of such value issued because he'd reportedly been trying to secure funding to sign Rahal, who will soon rejoin Newman/Haas/Lanigan with a new sponsor. Ganassi shuts down inquiries into his business dealings.
Another question about Ganassi perhaps becoming the second owner to join the "500 Club" by winning the Daytona and Indianapolis 500s in the same year led to a cheery story about Roger Penske – the only other member of the club – and the order was restored.
Let's stay current here.