Chip Ganassi Accidentally Ran Over Driver’s Puppy at Daytona

Chip Ganassi at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May of 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The rumors were running rampant in the Daytona garages during the Rolex 24 race last weekend: IMSA and IndyCar team owner Chip Ganassi ran over and killed Lucky, a Golden Retriever puppy owned by IndyCar driver Devlin DeFrancesco—and Ganassi didn’t stop or say he was sorry. The police were called, and there was an investigation.

We now know that only some of this is true. Nevertheless, the motorsports social media blew up with the story. Feeding the flames was a post from Andy DeFrancesco, Devlin’s father: “It’s a crime that anyone has to go through this and Lucky had to suffer the way he did. It’s unconscionable people don’t acknowledge their actions or show any remorse.”


It all started when Jenna Fryer, the motorsports correspondent for the Associated Press, posted this on X: “Devlin DeFrancesco’s golden retriever puppy was run over and killed in the motorhome lot,” a fenced-off area where drivers and team owners stay. Next post from Fryer, who was getting major criticism on social media for her first post: “I would not have tweeted about Dev’s dog if it wasn’t literally the talk of the pre-race grid. It was in the motorhome lot. Which means someone authorized to be driving a car in the lot was involved. I’ve asked for a statement from the other party involved.”

Devlin Defrancesco driver of the The #78 Forte Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2
James Gilbert/Getty Images

Multiple reports on social media said it was Ganassi, but like a responsible reporter, Fryer didn’t say so until she heard from him. Which she did late Monday. That post reads: “Chip Ganassi has confirmed to me that he accidentally hit Devlin’s dog, says he did stop his car and is ‘terribly sad about it.’ He says he spoke to four different police officers on site that evening. He said his multiple attempts to call the DeFrancesco’s have gone unanswered.”

Next post from Fryer: “It was imperative for me to speak to Chip before I could responsibly give more details because it is my understanding this was a wildly chaotic scene, and very different versions from both sides about the moments after Lucky was struck.”

2024 Rolex 24 racing action lamborghini
Eddy Eckart

Meanwhile, Devlin DeFrancesco, 24, 2022 Daytona winner in the LMP2 class, had to suit up and drive for Forte Racing’s Lamborghini Huracán GT3 in the GTD class. It was not easy. An Instagram post from him, with a picture of Lucky, which he got in September: “I’m going to miss you more than you know. Thank you for being my best friend. I love you more than anything in the world. I’ll see you on the other side, until we meet again.”

His girlfriend Katie posted this: “Words will never describe the pain of losing our baby last night. Thank you for the best five months we could have ever dreamed of. We love you forever, Lucky.”

It turned out to be a long day for Forte Racing. Misha Goikhberg, who co-drove with DeFrancesco in 2022, crashed the Lamborghini into a tire wall 26 minutes into the 24-hour race. The team fixed the car and soldiered on, finishing 40th in the 59-car field and 16th in class.

As for DeFrancesco: His contract to drive in IndyCar for Andretti Autosport ended in 2023, when the team downsized from four cars to three for 2024. He hasn’t announced a new ride for this year. But he will be with Forte Racing for the four remaining IMSA sports car endurance races, including the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March.

A final post from DeFrancesco: “Thank you to everyone who’s reached out to me over the last couple of days! I’m truly grateful. Thank you to Forte Racing and my awesome teammates, looking forward to getting home and going to Sebring soon!”

RIP, Lucky.

 

***

 

Check out the Hagerty Media homepage so you don’t miss a single story, or better yet, bookmark it. To get our best stories delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletters.

Click below for more about
Read next Up next: Walk with Us around the CX-70, Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom Two-Row Crossover

Comments

    Look I love my dog a lot. I also love him enough not to take him to a race track.

    Race tracks are not the place for dogs and if you have one there it had better be on a leash in your hand. In this case it appears it was not under supervision of the owner and two I see no place it was tied up.

    Chip is running a major multi million dollar race program that needs his full attention and dodging dogs in the in field are not making that easier.

    Just be grateful this was not a unsupervised child.

    This driver needs to understand this is his work and your pet should not be at work.

    Chip was plastered when he hit the dog in a fenced in lot meant for team owner’s, driver’s and their families. The dog was not unsupervised but unfortunately the drunk chip ganassi was. Families (including pets) are allowed to be there to support the drivers and team. RV’s are portable homes so you bring the comforts of home with you when you are on the road especially if you are stuck at Daytona for 2 weeks with the Roar then the Rolex. Thankfully my friend’s kid that was riding his bike in the lot just hours before wasn’t hit. They were all out there watching him circle the rv’s but you can’t control what happens when a drunk man is driving in a fenced in lot. Chip talked to 4 cops… they didn’t mention they were unable to determine if he was drunk when he drove or was “distraught” after seeing what he did then drank before the cops showed up. It’s not a big lot and everyone knows families are in there to drive slow with that in mind but reaction times aren’t good when impaired.

    Absolutely awful to hear this. I suspect there are more people to blame than just Ganassi. Anyone who’s had a puppy before knows that they need close attention or they’re liable to get into some trouble. Doubly so in a busy motorsports paddock.

    Driver’s and Team owner’s lot isn’t busy. It’s small and fenced in. It’s where most the kids of the driver’s ride bikes because it’s quiet and the gate has security during the races.

    ““Words will never describe the pain of losing our baby last night.”

    I feel for anyone who has lost a beloved pet but as anyone whose family has experienced a child’s death can tell you, there’s a world of difference between losing a pet and losing a baby. 

    I’m undoubtedly a dog person. I think dogs are partly responsible for the development of civilization. I’ve owned dogs, adopted a racing greyhound, and spent a lot of time helping out at my father’s veterinary hospital, but Lucky was an animal, not a baby. I think it’s important to make a distinction between acting humanely to animals and treating animals as equal to humans.

    I was explaining to my grandson that one reason why it’s important for boys to play sports is that it teaches them how to deal with personal failure and disappointment. Likewise, one reason why we have pets is to learn about loss without having to deal with the loss of human life.

    Now here is a person with his head screwed on absolutely straight, IMO. I agree 100% with everything Ronnie has said.

    Chip strikes me as a decent guy. Based on the information available this is an unfortunate accident. To be honest a busy paddock is no place for a dog.

    This is more Defrancesco’s fault than Ganassi’s. A racetrack is no place for a dog, especially a puppy, and apparently unsupervised to boot. Leave your dogs at home.

    First of all, I am sorry for the loss of your lovely Golden. I lost one, and she was truly the light of my life. Secondly, Chip, it would be impossible for you to have run over a dog in a golf cart and not know it. It is obvious you have a very uncaring heart.

    Please re-read Ms Fryer’s article. It states Mr. Canassi spoke with multiple law enforcement officers. Please don’t repeat unrefuted rumors, unless you are an eye witness. Thank you

    He had to speak to multiple law enforcement officers because he was “impaired” at the time they arrived. They couldn’t determine if it was when he was driving or when he saw what he had done and drank before they got there. They left that part of the story out.

    Cite your source for Ganassi being impaired. Your speculation was likely left out because it was unverifiable. People come to this website for news, but accurate news. This isn’t TMZ and we are all better for it.

    Excellent article depicting very responsible reporting from Jenna Fryer. Rumors fly and accidents happen. So glad she got the facts out in the open. And condolences to the family for their loss.

    This is heartbreaking. I would like to know if the doggie was running loose at 5 months old? I go through this too often walking my dogs in our neighborhood. We also have a dog boarding business. Our people know, 100% of the time. Dogs come in on a leash. And leave on a leash. Unless it’s a dog park or fenced in area with NO cars or vehicles. They should NEVER, EVER be off leash. It only takes one. A terrible, terrible lesson!

    This is tragic but why in the world would you bring your dog into a paddock area during an event especially at night. Not sure where the responsibility for this belongs but so sorry it happened. .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *