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Team Owner Felix Sabates Retiring After 2020 Racing Season

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Chip Ganassi Racing

CONCORD, NC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Owner Felix Sabates, one of Chip Ganassi’s business partners in NASCAR and Sports Cars, is retiring following the 2020 racing season.

Sabates started SABCO Racing in 1987 and sold a majority stake to Ganassi in 2001.  Their partnership produced 43-wins in the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity/Busch Series, including wins in the 2010 Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400.

“I look back to the 1980s when I first started in this sport, and I can tell you that the landscape has really changed,” said Sabates. “It’s been challenging at times, and tremendously rewarding watching the sport grow. When I started the NASCAR team, it was just a different time – a smaller regional sport. Then NASCAR grew and grew into a big business and continued to grow after my partnership with Chip.”

The partnership was unable to produce a NASCAR Championship.  The closest the team came was in 2001 when Sterling Marlin captured 2-wins and finished third in the Championship in the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge.

The partnership was able to produce in Sports Cars; 7-Championships and 63-wins, including eight in the Rolex 24-Hours at Daytona as well as victories in the 24-Hours of LeMans and 12-Hours of Sebring.

Three Rivers Karting

“I’m proud of what I’ve done over the last 30 years,” continued Sabates. “I have friendships that will last a lifetime. I hope that what I have tried to give back to the sport – whether it be bringing NASCAR to Mexico or being instrumental in starting the sports car program with Chip – will be equal to what the sport has taught and given me.”

Sabates was instrumental in helping acclimate Ganassi to the NASCAR world when they started their partnership but it goes much farther than that according to the Fox Chapel resident.

“Where do you even begin to describe Felix Sabates?” said Ganassi. “He’s done so much for the sport of racing. I teamed up with him almost 20 years ago, and he’s been a great business partner and an even better friend. In that time, the only thing we’ve had an argument over was who was picking up the tab at dinner. Felix helped me develop as an owner as well as an individual. His track record in this sport certainly sets the bar high for anyone that follows. I’m proud to call him a friend and wish him all the best.”

Sabates, who has been a Charlotte resident since 1963, has always had a soft spot in his heart for sports. In 1988, he became an original owner of the Charlotte Hornets basketball team and played a key role in negotiating with the NBA to grant Charlotte a franchise. He also is the only person who had ownership in the original Hornets to still have an ownership stake with Michael Jordan in the Charlotte Hornets. He also has been an owner of the East Coast Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers, which won the league championship in 1995. In addition, in the early 1980s, he started the first indoor professional soccer team and was one of the first investors of the World Football League.

Sabates is well known for his many philanthropic contributions and has received several honors and awards for his generosity. Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina has named its dining hall after him, Elon College and UNC Charlotte bestowed upon him Honorary Doctorate degrees and he received a “Special Blessing” in writing from Pope John Paul II. Sabates became a member of the philanthropic Dream Makers Society of the Boys and Girls Club of Broward County, Fla., in recognition of his 12-year commitment to and support of special fundraising events. In his honor, the Felix Sabates Athletic Center was dedicated in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in November 2000. The facility is the largest Boys and Girls Club in the state. He also is a large contributor to the Levine Children’s Hospital, which bears a special plaque in his honor is in the main lobby. Sabates has contributed much money to and served on the board of Atrium Health Care system for over 30 years while also being a member of the Atrium Health Foundation Board.

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NASCAR

Martin Truex Jr Victorious At Martinsville Speedway

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James Gilbert/Getty Images

MARTINSVILLE, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Martin Truex Jr passed teammate Denny Hamlin on lap 485 and went on the win the rain-delayed NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.  The victory was Truex’s second of 2021 and 29th of his Cup Series Career.

“He (Hamlin) started getting tight, our car was getting better and better,” said Truex of the late race pass. “We were able to take advantage of it. Really happy. For whatever reason our car really turned on when the lights went down. Always good when a plan comes together and it works out the way you hoped it would.”

Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott finished second, his seventh top-10 finish in 13-races at Martinsville and fourth top-10 of 2021.

“Really, really hard-fought second actually for us,” said Elliott. “We were not great, but had some, I guess our strong suit was kind of early on in the run, then really faded hard, too hard there in the latter part of a run. But we never got one of those super long runs, which is probably a good thing for us because we were struggling on that end. But, yeah, proud we could fight back.”

Hamlin settled for third after leading the most laps in the race (267).

Three Rivers Karting

“Had a really good car on the short run all day,” said Hamlin. “Got great restarts. Was fast for 25, 30 laps. Then it seemed like guys would start catching us. Unfortunately it was just too many laps there at the end that we couldn’t hold those guys off.”

Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson finished fourth and fifth respectively, giving HMS three cars in the top 5.

The race featured 18-lead changes among 7-drivers and was slowed by 15-caution flags for 105-laps.

The next NASCAR Cup Series race is April 18, 2020 at Richmond Raceway.

Martinsville Cup Results

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NASCAR

Josh Berry Gets First Career Xfinity Series Win At Martinsville Speedway

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James Gilbert/Getty Images

MARTINSVILLE, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Josh Berry passed Ty Gibbs for the lead on lap 223 and stayed out front for the final 27-laps to get his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win in the rain-delayed Cook Out 250 at Martinsville Speedway.  The victory was the first career victory for Berry in 13 Xfinity Series starts.

“Man, I wanted to win so bad for these guys,” said Berry referring to his No. 8 JR Motorsports team. “They’re such a great group. I knew this would be a good opportunity to win. (Crew chief) Taylor (Moyer) called a perfect race. The car was good, and we just kept tweaking on it. The tires were pretty worn out there at the end. I was struggling a little bit with wheel-hop. This is just unbelievable.”

Berry’s JR Motorsports teammate Noah Gragson finished second and picked up a $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus, which eased the pain of being the runner-up.

“One hundred thousand dollars richer,” said Gragson. “Great 1-2 finish for our team at JR Motorsports. I really wanted to win there, but I was having to protect the bottom to keep the guys behind me from moving me out of the way. I couldn’t open up my arc the way I needed to and make speed.”

Three Rivers Karting

Daniel Hemric finished in third position followed by Gibbs, who faded to a fourth place finish.  Gibbs’ teammate Brandon Jones finished fifth. Jones was the leader Friday night when storms red-flagged the event after completing 91-laps.

The race featured 13-lead changes among 9-drivers.  The race was slowed by 12-caution flags for 75-laps.

The next race for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is April 24, 2021 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Martinsville Xfinity Results

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NASCAR

Mother Nature Wins At Martinsville Speedway

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Photo: James Gilbert/Getty Images

MARTINSVILLE, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Mother Nature is throwing a wrench into this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series Schedules at Martinsville Virginia.

Friday’s Xfinity race is under a red flag following 92-laps of the scheduled 250-lap event after rain showers put an end to NASCAR’s attempt to get the event finished.  Joe Gibbs Racing’s Brandon Jones is scored as the leader of the race.

NASCAR has rescheduled the remainder of the event for Sunday at Noon ET.

Three Rivers Karting

The Cup Series race was red flagged on lap 43 because of showers.  JGR’s Denny Hamlin is scored as the leader.  Hamlin has led 38-laps.  Team Penske’s Joey Logano started on the pole position and led the other laps.

NASCAR will restart the event on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.

Per NASCAR rules, an event is considered official after half of the scheduled distance has been completed.

Both races will be broadcast live on FS1, the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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