INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon will defend his Indy Racing League championship with a new team.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing said Monday it has signed the 27-year-old native of Emberton, England. He won the IRL title with Andretti Green Racing but couldn’t come to terms with team owner Michael Andretti.

“It’s good,” Wheldon said of his switch to the Ganassi team.

Wheldon will join Ganassi driver Scott Dixon, the IRL’s 2003 champion. Team owner Chip Ganassi is not expected to field three cars as he did this season.

The team announced in July it would not exercise its contract option with driver Darren Manning for the 2006 season. Australian Ryan Briscoe is recovering from injuries sustained in a fiery crash Sept. 11 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Al Larsen, a spokesman for Andretti Green, declined to comment on Wheldon’s departure. He said the team was still working on its 2006 lineup.

“At this point, we expect to field four cars,” he said.

Andretti Green expects to return Tony Kanaan, the 2004 IRL champion, along with Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta.

Wheldon has nine career victories, tied for second with Scott Sharp. Sam Hornish Jr. leads the IRL with 14.

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