The Frontstretch: Voices From the Heartland: Ganassi Ego May Reap Huge Benefits for Roush by Jeff Meyer -- Wednesday September 28, 2005

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We all know that the 'Silly Season' is no longer a season; it is all year long. In fact, a more appropriate name would be 'Garage BS 2005.' This year, especially, it has been piling up higher than a Hendrick car after post-race inspection, as the gossip around the garage area never seems to be able to slow down.

One of the more ridiculous sagas for the '05 season has been the Ganassi/McMurray/Roush/Martin and Busch (sounds like a nasty lawfirm) Comedy Hour. In case you slipped on a spilt beverage and have been unconscious under the grandstands for the last few months, I will attempt to bring you up to green flag speed on the insanity.

Back in July, Jamie McMurray signed a contract with Roush Racing to drive the #6 Viagra Ford, starting with the 2007 season. McMurray couldn't start in '06 because he will still be under contract with Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, and Ganassi refused to release him a year early.

"The option for Jamie is exercised," said Tyler Epp, Ganassi's team manager not all that long ago. "Unless something tragic happens, he will be in the #42 next year driving for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates."

"We didn't do a good job of conveying to Jamie where this team is headed, but we expect a lot of success with Jamie the rest of this year and next year," said Sabates when interviewed on the matter.

Actually Felix, you did do a good job of conveying where the team is headed. You guys suck, and McMurray knows it. He wanted to sign with a winner in Roush Racing; but that is just my opinion, of course.

Meanwhile, Mark Martin, who had planned to retire from the Cup scene at the end of this season, felt obligated to be the one to hand the keys over to McMurray and, as a personal favor to Jack Roush, agreed to drive one more year.

In August, reigning Cup Champ Kurt Busch, not wanting to be left out of the spotlight, announced that he was leaving Roush to drive the Penske #2 car to be vacated by Rusty Wallace at the end of the '05 season. The problem, as with McMurray, is that Busch is under contract through 2006 with Roush and cannot drive the Miller Lite Dodge until 2007.

Busch's defection, of course, delighted the Ganassi/Sabates boys, who basically began sticking their tongues out and saying "Nanner! Nanner! Nanner!" to Jack Roush every time he walked by.

Roush, ever the cool 'Cat in the Hat' guy that he is, didn't fly off the handle and make a commitment to exercise the remaining year on Busch's contract as Ganassi did with McMurray. Jack left himself some wiggle room instead, and has until mid-October to make that decision, which now looks as if it could pay off huge (in cash anyway)!

According to the soon-to-be-retired Rusty Wallace, a vast team of lawyers, the likes of which could fill the new 'Rusty Wallace Grandstand' at Bristol Motor Speedway, is looking for ways to free Busch of his 'Jack Shackles' even as we speak (or you read as the case may be).

"I know he wants to drive the car next year," Wallace said. "They're trying to get everything worked out."

The word from the garage is that the lawyers in question prefer the word 'buyout' as opposed to 'payoff,' and that they have just about reached Jack's number. It wouldn't surprise me if that number is just about the same as Jack's phone number, area code included.

So, what it all boils down to is; Penske will get what they want. Roush will get lots of cash, but will now have to find a driver for the 97 (hey if Kurt wants to go, let him!) and Ganassi will still have a program that basically still sucks with a driver that doesn't want to be there. Ganassi is the one who will be taking it in the shorts in the long run.

"You know Jamie is probably the most sought after driver in the cup garage...we're fortunate enough to have him signed up for '07," said Mark Martin.

It's really too bad that Ganassi is so stubborn. Maybe if he had used his brain, and McMurray as a bargaining chip, he could have negotiated a 'buyout' as Jack is, and used the money to improve his whole program.

One side note to this sordid saga I do not like is the fact that now Roush is saying there is a possibility of McMurray going into the #97. That would be an insult to Mark Martin. Martin agreed to do a favor for Jack and felt he should be the one to hand over the car to McMurray. I hope Mark doesn't get jacked around!

Stay off the wall, (but look over it to see if any cash fell out of Jack's pocket!)


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Racing to the Point: NASCAR Has Its Own Heartbreak Kid
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Couch Potato Tuesday: Picking The Best IndyCar On-Air Personalities


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Dawn Johnson
09/29/2005 06:28 AM
Ganassi has been showing nothing but ignorance all season, and it’s going to come around and bite him in the butt. Jamie is already showing his disgust at being with this organization. In defense of Jamie, I don’t blame him. Ganassi did not “exercise” the option until after Roush and Jamie signed their 2007 deal. The worst part is, is that prior to Roush and McMurray joining, Chip had threatened everyone in the organization publicly. Now Chip is being stubborn, Jamie is unhappy, Sterling is out, and he’s signed two young guys that frankly, have not been that impressive. Chip needs to pay attention to the old saying, “Be careful who’s toes you step on because they might be attached to the a** you eventually have to kiss”!
Charlie Grissom
09/29/2005 11:24 AM
Ganassi and Sabatis. Felix has nothing but junk and is a racing loser but an extremely successful business man. He’s tied up with Fitz-Bradshaw racing and they are losers. No wonder McMurry wants out.
09/29/2005 01:39 PM
are y’all crazy ??
ganassi is WELL WITHIN HIS RIGHTS to make the punk McMurray HONOR his contract..I dont blame him one damn bit ! Busch is a punk for pulling this kinda crap too ! THEY BOTH KNEW they were obligated contractually for another year & had no business agreeing to drive for someone else…RIDICULOUS !
as for GANASSI & his Team, sure they are not on the same level as Roush or Penske right now…BUT ( BIG HUGE BUT ) he has as good or better a future then they do because he has one thing they don’t !! REED SORENSON !!! REED will be in a very short period of time THE BEST DRIVER ON THE TRACK during ANY CUP event.
There will be a time in NASCAR history which will be referred to as THE REED SORENSON ERA ! Bank on it !
I do not have my own racin web-site, but remember…you heard it hear 1st !!
09/29/2005 01:51 PM
Reed has loads of talent and will be a big star, that’s for sure, but in my opinion “the best driver on the track” is a bit of an over exaggeration.
As for Busch and McMurray signing to drive for others when their contracts expire, I dont see anything wrong with that—if they dont do it, someone else will. However, expecting to be let out of your contract early and whining about it not happening is, in my opinion, the crappy part of all this. Busch and McMurray should stick to their contracts and drive for their respective teams next year.
And lastly, apparently someone here just doesn’t like Ganassi or anyone associated with them.
Ganassi has a long way to go to get to the level of Roush, etc., but signing drivers like Reed and David Stremme will go a long way for them.
09/29/2005 03:45 PM
McMurray is associated with Ganassi and I don’t have anything against him or Sterling or Reed or Stremme for that matter.
I’m just saying that Ganassi is making his decision based on emotion, not brains.
It is well known that Ganassi is not the most likable person in this sport. Do you ‘spose there is a reason for that!?
As for Reed and Stremme, time will tell how long they stay with the ole Chipster.
Ganassi/Sabates’ last Champion was when? There last best shot was with Marlin till he got hurt and McMurray stepped in.
Heck, I’d drive for Ganassi myself if it gave me a chance to get my butt in a Cup car. Don’t mean I’d like the guy. How many jobs have you had in your life that you didn’t particularly like your boss!?
09/29/2005 05:12 PM
Busch has an opportunity to drive one of the all-time premier rides in cup!!!! And the money he’ll be making won’t hurt either!!!! He also wants to prove that he can win for another team,prove his skills so to speak….
10/04/2005 08:46 AM
Ganassi needs to get his stuff together, and hiring these kids with very little experience is not the way to do it. Getting rid of Sterling was dumb. They need that guy. Stremme is ok, but Reed is overrated. I’m not saying he sucks, but he’s not going to be superman. I’ve watched him through ASA and ARCA. All he did was wreck cars and piss people off…and he had top notch equipment. I’m glad he’s doing well in busch, but he’s not ready for cup. Jamie will actually be able to make a career at Roush. If I didn’t know if I had a job the next year, I’d be making deals ASAP too. Busch, on the other hand, I don’t know what to think about that. I don’t blame him for wanting that ride though.


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