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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.

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“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.

NASCAR

Timmy Hill Wins eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational At Virtual Texas Motor Speedway

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NASCAR Media

Timmy Hill took home the victory Sunday in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 125 at virtual Texas Motor Speedway in the second event of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series.

Hill’s “bump and run” moved leader William Byron off the low groove with three laps to go and put Hill out front but he still had to hold off fellow NASCAR Cup Series drivers Ryan Preece and Garrett Smithley following a green-white-checkerd to get the win.

“I told myself, ‘If I have a chance to win any race, NASCAR, short track level, if it came down to it, that’s what I would do'”, Hill said.  “It doesn’t change because it was iRacing. That’s what I would do in real life.  Going forward, I’m sure William isn’t happy about it.  “I’m sure he’ll do the same back to me.”

Byron, driver of the No. 24 for Hendrick Motorsports, led 80-laps and wound up seventh.

Preece and Smithley finished second and third followed by Landon Cassill in fourth and Alex Bowman, who rounded out the Top 5.

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Hill’s home iRacing set-up is almost a parallel to his under-funded Cup Series team.

“My wheel is a 10-year-old wheel, paid 300 bucks for that,” said Hill.  “My desk, I bought that at Black Friday, Office Depot.  $75 bucks for that.  We have a hundred bucks in my chair.  The most expensive thing I have is my computer. It’s a gaming computer. Probably cost me $1,400. That’s probably the most expensive part of my little rig here.  The thing with my computer is I use it for everything.  I use it for my taxes, my business. It’s not just solely a gaming computer.  I have other things I do with it.”

The win also gives racers like Hill something that his and his team doesn’t typically receive in a regular NASCAR race.

“For me personally, what I’ll gain from this is recognition,” said Hill.  “For us, it’s hard to get that recognition because of the level of competition that we are in real life.  We’re doing our best.  Frankly, we just don’t have the money, the dollars, to compete at a high level. This win will hopefully gain some recognition and attract more sponsors for us maybe in the real world when we get back racing because they know Timmy Hill from iRacing, from FOX, from this invitational.”

The next eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational will be Sunday, April 5 at 1:00 p.m. ET from virtual Bristol Motor Speedway.

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IndyCar

Chip Ganassi Racing Begins “Best Paint Scheme” Contest

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Ford Motor Company

CONCORD, NC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing is starting a cool contest where fans can pick the “Best Paint Scheme” that has appeared on one of the CGR cars over the 30-year history of the organization.

The contest started Wednesday on Twitter and features 32-paint schemes that have appeared on the teams NASCAR, INDYCAR and IMSA race cars.

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Fans can vote on their favorites in a bracket style elimination tournament where one paint scheme will be crowned the winner.

Cars involved include some favorites driven by Scott Dixon, Alex Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sterling Marlin, Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch, Scott Pruitt, Felix Rosenqvist, Memo Rojas, Steve Arpin, Jamie McMurray, Joey Hand, Richard Westbrook, Ryan Briscoe and Dirk Mueller.

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NASCAR

Denny Hamlin Edges Dale Earnhardt Jr. In eNASCAR Race At Virtual Homestead Miami Speedway

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NASCAR

Denny Hamlin edged Dale Earnhardt Jr to win Sunday’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series opener at virtual Homestead Miami Speedway.

Earnhardt was leading going into the final turn but the pair got together in Turn 4 and Hamlin was able to get off the turn and down the front straightaway for the virtual victory.

“He was smart to kind of block the bottom there because the bottom lane at Homestead on iRacing just has tremendous more grip than what the lane I was running in, but I knew that the difference in the two lanes was about a tenth and a half to two tenths, and I thought my tires were about three tenths better,” said Hamlin.  “I thought as long as I got beside him, I was going to be able to complete it, even though he was in the preferred groove.”

“I think I probably gave Denny a little more room than I really wanted to, but I had to keep from crashing him or anybody else,” said Earnhardt Jr.  “I thought I might have been able to get a photo finish at the line, but we got together in [Turn] 4 and I about wrecked there.  But it was a fun race. Denny had better tires and he was just really, really fast, but it was a good race.’’

Timmy Hill, Chase Briscoe and pole-winner Garrett Smithley rounded out the top five.

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Rounding out the top 10 were Cup Series regulars Alex Bowman, Bubba Wallace and Ryan Preece. Gander Trucks driver Ty Majeski finished ninth followed by Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing Cup Series teammate Erik Jones in 10th.

Hamlin was pleased to see the racing community come together to put on a show for the fans.

“It was a great event,” said Hamlin.  “The thing is that nobody got together and said, Hey, let’s all do this.  I think everyone just started doing it, and then iRacing got involved and emailed everyone, said, ‘Hey, this is what we’re thinking about’.  NASCAR got involved, television got involved and said they’d be interested. So, I think it all just came together. But no one really talked to the drivers about unifying and participating. It was all free will, and that’s what’s exciting is you had 25-plus full-time Cup guys out there willing to spend their time doing this.”

Hamlin hopes the event and others that are planned attract some new fans to NASCAR.

“I think at one time it was No. 1 trending (on social media), so that’s really, really big,” said Hamlin.  You know, although NASCAR has its struggles at times, for the regular fan to go out and simulate a game-winning shot or game-winning pass, like iRacing has given them that platform, and there’s no other sport — like NBA players can’t go play NBA2K and put it on TV and make it look like the real thing. You can’t go play Madden and make it look like the real thing. There’s so much animation.  But iRacing’s platform, like we really — this is something that really can gain a lot of traction simply because it’s as real as it gets. I’m excited that this was just a first step and hopefully something that builds for years and years to come.”

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