Two days before the 500 Ganassi sat on a couch in a motor home, closed his eyes and remembered. "The accident changed my life," he said. "But the fact that I'm a former racer helps me as an owner. I know what it's like to take chances, and I can speak the language of a driver."
During an IndyCar race at Michigan International Speedway in the summer of 1984, Ganassi, then 26 and fearless, slammed into the backstretch wall at 183 mph. His car flipped several times, virtually disintegrating before it stopped. He was in a coma for a day. Ganassi recovered physically but was never the same as a racer. Four years later he became an Indy team owner. "Chip is the guy I try to beat every week," says rival owner Roger Penske, whose drivers have won a record 15 Indy 500s. "He's as good as there is in the sport right now."
That was evident late on Sunday when Ganassi and Franchitti, still side by side, left Victory Lane and walked through the infield. Fans swarmed the pair, but for the first time all day, driver and owner didn't hurry. Their slowdown was understandable. For two men who have survived the life-altering lows of racing, this was a moment to savor.
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