Connect with us
Mr. Magic Car Wash

NASCAR

Checkered Flag falling on Chip Ganassi’s 20-year run as a NASCAR owner

Published

on

Chip Ganassi’s 20-year tenure as a NASCAR team owner is coming to end, for now, Sunday afternoon following the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway.  Ganassi sold the team to Trackhouse Racing’s Justin Marks and Pitbull, more on that later.

Ganassi entered NASCAR in 2001 when he purchased an 80% interest in Felix Sabates’ Team SABCO.  Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates debuted with Sterling Marlin winning his qualifying race at Daytona and finishing 7th in the Daytona 500.

Ganassi and Marlin would get Dodge their first Cup Series race win since their return to NASCAR at Michigan in August, beating Evernham Motorsports to victory lane.  I remember waiting for Ganassi to get to Michigan after the race because his open wheel team had won earlier in the day at Road America.

I’ll never forget how happy Daimler Chrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche was at the victory celebration afterward.  That weekend was the first ‘weekend sweep’ for Ganassi as a team owner.

In 2002 Marlin would lead the season-long Championship points standings for 26-weeks until he was injured in an accident at Kansas.  In retrospect, It was probably Ganassi’s best shot at a Cup Series Championship.

Ganassi brought open wheel stars Juan Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti to NASCAR in 2007 and 2008 respectively, giving both an opportunity to try their hand at racing stock cars. A lack of sponsorship forced Ganassi to shut down the Franchitti team.  Franchitti would move over to Ganassi’s open wheel team for the 2009 season.

Ganassi also introduced long-time sponsor Target to NASCAR.  The Target-Ganassi relationship spanned 25-years and was one of the longest partnerships ever in racing.

I remember sitting down with Ganassi at his Pittsburgh office in January of 2010 and how excited he was that Jamie McMurray was returning to the team.

McMurray rewarded Ganassi’s faith by winning the season-opening Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Couple McMurray’s Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 wins with Dario Franchitti’s 2010 Indianapolis 500 win and a 2011 win at the Rolex 24 Daytona and you have the “Chip Slam”, making Ganassi the first team owner to hold all four titles at one time.

Three Rivers Karting

In 2012 Ganassi signed a young dirt-track racer named Kyle Larson to a driver development contract.  Ganassi would help guide Larson up the NASCAR ladder where he would make his Cup Series debut in 2014 in the No. 42 Chevrolet.

Ganassi was forced to fire Larson in 2020 after Larson’s use of a racial slur.  When the livelihood of hundreds of employees depends on corporate sponsorship what choice did Ganassi have?  Yet Ganassi was vilified on social media by some dirt-track fans across the country every time Larson won a dirt race in 2020.

Ironically Larson will be racing for his first Cup Series Championship Sunday at Phoenix, just not for the man who gave him the break.  If Larson is fortunate to win the title, I hope he takes a moment to recognize the man who invested considerably into his success.

Barring a victory Sunday at Phoenix by Kurt Busch or Ross Chastain, Ganassi’s 20-year scorecard in NASCAR looks like this: 24 Cup Series victories; two All-Star Race wins; 21 Xfinity Series wins and 53 pole positions.

Don’t mistake Ganassi’s leaving NASCAR as some sort of retirement for the 63-year-old Fox Chapel native.  There’s still the Extreme E Jurassic X Prix on December 18-19 in Dorset, UK, which leads into January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, where Ganassi will be fielding two Cadillac’s for the season-long Championship, which leads into the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Season, and you get my point.  Ganassi will be on pit road and in the paddock somewhere.

Ganassi wasn’t planning on selling the NASCAR team but when Marks couldn’t get team charters for 2022 on the open market he made Ganassi an offer he had to “seriously consider”.  Ganassi clearly inherited some of his late father Floyd’s business acumen.  The sale closes after the race.

Marks penned a letter to Ganassi and shared it on social media.

In that same 2010 interview Ganassi talked about how the foundation of a strong team is built by the people in the shop who show up every day and put in the long hours and hard work.  He echoed those same sentiments after Alex Palou won the 2021 INDYCAR Championship, deflecting credit to his employees.  Trackhouse Racing has one hell of a foundation on which to build.

Ganassi loves to use the hashtag #ILikeWinners on his social media posts after a race win.  NASCAR is certainly losing a 20-year pillar of strength and support in the garage area because Chip Ganassi is a winner.  Congratulations on a great run!

NASCAR

Racing Notebook: Logano on Darlington pole; Allgaier wins Xfinity race and more

Published

on

Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

DARLINGTON, SC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – It’s NASCAR ‘throwback’ weekend in Darlington, South Carolina where all three series are on the track this weekend.

Logano Take Cup Series Pole:

  • Team Penske’s Joey Logano is on the pole position for Sunday’s 3rd Annual Goodyear 400.  Logano’s fast lap of 28.805-seconds (170.720 mph) was .082-seconds quicker than Hendrick Motorsports Kyle Larson’s 28.887.  Hendrick’s Chase Elliott, Stewart Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick and B.J. McCloud did not make qualifying attempts after separate issues in practice. The green flag drops at 3:30 p.m. on FS1. Darlington Cup Lineup
Three Rivers Karting

Allgaier Wins Xfinity Race:

  • Justin Allgaier beat JR Motorsports Noah Gragson by .259-seconds to win Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Mahindra ROXOR 200 at Darlington Raceway. In a 2-lap shootout following a caution flag, Allgaier quickly dispatched A.J. Allmendinger – who was on 16-lap older tires and drove away with Gragson in tow.  JRM drivers now have won three straight races in the series. Darlington Xfinity Results

Nemechek Wins Truck Series Race:

  • John Hunter Nemechek beat Carson Hocevar by .552-seconds in overtime to win Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Dead On Tools 200 at Darlington Raceway.  Wexford native Kris Wright finished 32nd after starting 21st in the No. 44 VFW Chevrolet thanks to an accident. Darlington Truck Series Results
Continue Reading

NASCAR

McGriff, Shelmerdine and Kenseth elected to NASCAR Hall of Fame

Published

on

Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Herschel McGriff, Kirk Shelmerdine and Matt Kenseth have been elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2023.  Mike Helton was also named the recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.

McGriff’s first race was the 1950 Southern 500, in the NASCAR Cup Series’ sophomore season, at the age of 22. His final NASCAR race was at Tucson Speedway in the NASCAR Pro Series West – in 2018 at the age of 90. McGriff started 85 races in parts of 28 NASCAR Cup Series seasons, capturing four wins – all in 1954, when he finished sixth in championship points.

Three Rivers Karting

Shelmerdine won four total Cup Series championships with Earnhardt (1986, ’87, ’90, ’91). Over his 16-year crew chief career with Earnhardt, Rudd, James Hylton and Richard Childress, he won 46 races and posted top-10 finishes in more than half his starts.

Kenseth, the 2003 Cup Series Champion, scored 39 Cup wins, which tie for 21st on the all-time list and include two Daytona 500s, the Southern 500, Coca-Cola 600 and the All-Star Race.

The Class of 2023 Induction Ceremony is set for Friday, Jan. 20, 2023 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Continue Reading

IndyCar

Racing Notebook: Rinus VeeKay on INDYCAR Pole; Chris Buescher on NASCAR Cup Pole and more!

Published

on

Penske Entertainment: Joe Skibinski

The Pittsburgh Racing Now Racing Notebook gets you up-to-speed with Saturday’s Qualifying results for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Honda GP of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park and the NASCAR Cup Series DuraMAX Drydene 400 plus IndyLights qualifying, IndyPro2000, USF 2000 and NASCAR Xfinity.

Rinus VeeKay wins INDYCAR Barber Pole:

  • Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay is on the pole position for Sunday’s Honda GP of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.  VeeKay’s fast lap of 1 minute, 6.2507 seconds in the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet in knockout-style qualifying edged Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward for the top spot.  O’Ward will join him on the front row after a best lap of 1:06.4003 in the No. 5 Chevrolet.  Defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Alex Palou will start third in the No. 10 American Legion Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. INDYCAR Barber Qualifying

Chris Buescher wins NASCAR Cup Series Dover Pole:

  • Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing’s Chris Buescher is on the pole position for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series DuraMAX Drydene 400 at Dover Motor Speedway.  Buescher’s fast lap of 159.207 mph around the concrete Monster Mile was 057-second faster than Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.  Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott make up row two. NASCAR Dover Lineup
Three Rivers Karting

Lundqvist wins Indy Lights Barber Pole:

  • Linus Lundqvist is on the pole position for Sunday’s Indy Lights Grand Prix of Alabama.  Lundqvist’s fast lap of 1 minute, 12.5713 seconds in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing car. Lundqvist’s teammate Benjamin Pedersen starts alongside in the No. 24 Global Racing Group with HMD entry at 1:12.5929, just .0216 of a second off Lundqvist’s time. Indy Lights Barber Lineup

Josh Berry takes Xfinity Series Win at Dover:

  • JR Motorsports (JRM) Josh Berry held off teammate Justin Allgaier to win Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series A-Game 200 at Dover Motor Speedway. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ty Gibbs was third followed by JRM drivers Noah Gragson and Sam Mayer. NASCAR Xfinity Dover Results

Reece Gold wins Indy Pro 2000 at Barber:

  • Reece Gold of Juncos Hollinger Racing became the third winner in as many rounds of the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires with a dominant victory Saturday afternoon at Barber Motorsports Park. It was the second career win for the 17-year-old from Miami, Fla.  University of Pittsburgh graduate Colin Kaminsky finished second in the No. #27 Slick Locks Tatuus IP-22. “I’m happy to be back up here, it’s been a while. I needed it, the team needed it,” said Kaminsky. Indy Pro 2000 Barber

Myles Rowe snags USF 2000 win at Barber:

  • Myles Rowe started on the pole position and brought home his second consecutive USF 2000 victory, taking the checkered flag Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park.  Billy Frazer finished second and Michael d’Orlando rounded out the podium. USF 2000 Barber
Continue Reading