Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Tony Lumbis · Friday September 24, 2010
When the checkered flag flew ending the Air Guard 400 at Richmond, the 2010 Chase field was set and there was not an Earnhardt Ganassi Racing driver to be found in the top 12. Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya finished 14th and 16th in the “regular season” standings, respectively. However, the last thing this season can be considered is a failure for Chip Ganassi and his organization. Both his drivers won races, with McMurray taking what many consider to be NASCAR’s two most prestigious events; the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400.
The success doesn’t stop there, however. Dario Franchitti, who drives for Ganassi in the IZOD Indy Car Series was victorious in the Indianapolis 500 in May, which helped give his owner the first ever “trifecta” (Daytona 500, Indy 500 and Brickyard 400). As if that weren’t enough, Team Ganassi also took home the 2010 GRAND AM Rolex Sports Car – Daytona Prototype championship with drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas while setting a record with nine victories.
Achieving success in one racing series takes hours of hard work and preparation. Replicating that success in three divisions in the same year can only be achieved by a first class organization that recognizes opportunities in any environment. Steve Lauletta, president of Chip Ganassi Racing and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing explains that the achievements of this race team are possible because of the owner’s management style and the organization’s abilities to build synergy between the units.
Racing has become so advanced that it has evolved from a sport into an industry. Gone are the days where drivers and mechanics could still race competitively at the nation’s highest level on the side while holding down other jobs. To be on top of the game in today’s day and age, one must eat, sleep and breathe racing. That is exactly what this organization has in Chip Ganassi. “Racing is all he does” said Lauletta, referring to his boss. “He doesn’t own car dealerships or other companies. He thinks about racing 24 hours a day, 7 days week, 365 days a year. If he’s not at one of our facilities, he’s going to be at one of the race tracks.”
A continuous presence alone is no enough to warrant the kind of success Ganassi has enjoyed, but rather it is the quality of time that is put in to the organization. “Everybody in our company is looking to do one of two things; win races and championships and deliver value to our sponsors” explained Lauletta. “It’s about finding people who want to focus on those type of things like Chip does.”
Finding those type of people who fit the culture of the team is one thing, keeping them is another and apparently for Ganassi, having them want to come back is an entirely different category as well. Lauletta said creating an environment where people want to come to work starts at the top. “It goes back to Chip again. He has the relationship with the drivers that make them want to drive for him. Montoya left for F1 and came back. Jamie left for another team and came back. Dario came to our team on the NASCAR side, and when it didn’t work out, moved to our Indy program where he’s won a championship and the Indy 500.”
While Ganassi has a keen eye for talent, putting the right people in the right places is only half the battle. Even the most talented drivers can’t run competitively in sub-par equipment and having fast race cars comes at a very steep price. In recent years, sponsorship dollars have become more essential to a team’s success due to increasingly sophisticated technology, and at the same time, harder to come by because of the economy. For Ganassi and his management team, more is better as they use all three of their teams as a point of differentiation over other teams when they pitch to sponsors in a very crowded market.
Lauletta states that the key to their selling strategy is using a “one team” approach. “If you’re a partner with us on the NASCAR side like Bass Pro Shops, and the Indy Car team wins the Indy 500, we want you to feel as much a part of that victory as when we won the Brickyard 400. It also cast a wider net for our partners. For example, we can do something for them in Utah, where our GRAND-AM team races but not NASCAR.”
Such an advantage has never been as evident as was the case with one of Ganassi’s rivals, Penske Racing and its new 2011 sponsor Shell Pennzoil. The oil company announced earlier this season that it was leaving RCR and then championship points leader Kevin Harvick for Penske to take advantage of the opportunities both in and out of NASCAR that Roger Penske could provide them. It is those very reasons why Lauletta and his team are always sure to look beyond sponsorship with just one team when pitching to a potential partner. “After we talk about motorsports, we talk about our team, Chip Ganassi Racing, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and what all those opportunities mean to a potential partner. When you become a partner of ours, your become a partner of everything.”
Today, team marketers are placed in the difficult position of trying to extract millions of dollars from companies that are downsizing and watching every penny in the process. To successfully build a partnership, teams must be able to provide the value sponsors need for them to write a check for the amount of money it takes to keep the cars competitive during a race weekend. By building a racing empire, Ganassi puts his team in a great position to do just that.
“You’ve got to be aggressive and our approach is what we can provide on and off the track, it’s not about price” explained Lauletta. “We try to avoid the conversations involving how cheap of a price can I get for putting the logo on the car. Our positioning allows us to offer more and keep the integrity from a price aspect.”
Such positioning allows the team to weather the rough spots and continue to deliver value to its sponsors when the race results are not ideal. For example, even though Montoya has a win at Watkins Glen this year, the No. 42 team is well off the pace of its 2009 run that was good enough to give the Colombian his first ever Chase birth. Lauletta referenced the mid-year results of brand visibility by driver to explain this point. “Montoya is ninth on that list even though he is much lower in the points. That means he is ninth in terms of delivering value to his sponsors such as Target and TUMS. That helps because it shows that we’re doing all the right things from a PR standpoint and with our activation programs to get their brand up front.” Lauletta realizes that in the sport of racing, nothing is a guarantee and you have to adequately prepare for it. “You could be on top of the world one year and struggle the next. So you need to work out how to balance those goals both on and off the track.”
There are a lot of moving parts that go into running a multifaceted race car team such as the one overseen by Ganassi. To keep all those pieces in order, teams now rely on executives with marketing and business backgrounds to run their programs, such as Lauletta, who spent 11 years as director of sports marketing for the Miller Brewing Company. “I’ve worked with properties such as the Dallas Cowboys, the Chicago White Sox and the L.A. Lakers and now I do the same things from the other side. If I’m not successful understanding their business and then applying the knowledge that we have on the racing side to develop the program that helps them succeed, then it’s going to be a short lived relationship.”
Top level teams in all forms of racing need to work just as hard off the track as they do on it in order to be successful. Winning races and championships are no longer enough to persuade a sponsor to fork over the big bucks needed to achieve that success. Owners are challenged with hiring the right people who share their vision and have the skill set to implement it while creating value for sponsors that extend beyond a logo on the hood or wing of a car.
Chip Ganassi has accomplished both of those things by putting the likes of Montoya, McMurray, Franchitti and Pruett behind the wheel and experienced executives like Lauletta in the front office. He has developed three completely different race teams that compete in various markets and appeal to a diverse group of fans. Yet all presented as one team, his organization is giving potential sponsors a multitude of opportunities under one marketing agreement. While racing in America has endured its challenges over the past decade and the economy has been on a wild roller coaster ride, one thing is for certain and that is Chip Ganassi has positioned his teams to not only so survive but thrive through it all.
©2000 - 2008 Tony Lumbis and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
How much did ‘ole Chip pay for this commercial?
Farmer, would you have made the same comment if this article had been about The Felon Rick Hendrick instead of Chip Ganassi? I doubt it!
Since when did winning races across different disciplines become a trifecta? Are there actually competitions tracking this? Isn’t Chip Ganassi the ONLY car owner capable of winning this fabricated honor?
I correctly bet on the Superbowl, Kentucky Derby, and NBA Finals, can I have a shout out on MY trifecta as well?
I wish I had something not sarcastic to say about this article, but I will admit that I stopped reading it the second I realized this was nothing more than a stroking of Chip’s ego.
I was hoping for some deep and probing questions: “Chip, why have your cars and drivers been so SLOW in becoming serious contenders?”, or; “Chip, why can’t Juan seem to run consistently?” How about, “Chip, do the Dodges really suck that badly?”, maybe; “Chip, do you wish you hadn’t bought Felix Sabates’ shamefully non-competitive team, and bought into a top team from the start?” NOPE, none of that. Just, “YAY, Chip, you are the most awesomest car owner ever! Tell me how you got all those racing smartitudes.”
1,000,000% DRIVEL, you should be ashamed to turn in such a sloppy article
Jacob – It looks like you completely missed the point to this article. “Dollars and Sense” is a piece that debuted this past summer which focuses on the business aspects of racing. It is to appeal to those who want to learn more about what goes on in the front offices of race teams. It just so happens that Chip Ganassi and company have done a very good job running not one but three solid race teams across three different series. They also have managed to maintain one of the longer marketing relationships in motorsports with Target. Those items alone make this a relevant topic for Dollars and Sense.
Furthermore, one of the main storylines in 2010 was Shell Pennzoil leaving the No. 29 team, right in the middle of a very successful run for Roger Penske because of the several business opportunities that The Captain can provide and RCR could not. Those type of models will become more relevant in today’s economy where sponsors are looking for much more than a decal on the hood. This is another reason why Chip’s method of business is one that is deserving of further analysis.
As to the questions you have presented, I hope that my explanation of the point of this article has helped you to understand why they are both irrelevant and inappropriate for a piece such as this. Furthermore, please remember that if there are topics you do want us to cover, there are more constructive and productive ways of bringing them to our attention. We have a “Contact Us” e-mail, fan forums, Facebook and Matt Taliaferro’s “Fanning the Flames” article where he answers reader’s e-mails directly. Please consider those methods the next time you have an opinion on what we should be covering. It will get you much further than a rant about your betting habits. Thanks!
Hey Jacob, stick to betting on the other crap sports you like. Ganassi, from downsizing to buying out Sabates then to merging with Earnhardt hasn’t seen enough turnaround? Sticking with nascar and finding a couple of good-very good drivers shows something about him-dies it not? Congrats on the trifecta I wanna see someone else try it and still have the class Chip has through all the nonsense over the last few years.
@ Tony: Thank you kindly, for that explanation. Now my question has to be, “Where are the probing and informative questions?“
If the purpose of this article is about what goes on behind the scenes of the front office in a major racing operation, where are the examples of that? This article (I have now read the entire thing), reads like you took the Chip Ganassi: A Franchise You Can Believe In pamphlet and fleshed it out to 1000 words.
All of the questions I posed in my first post are even MORE relevant in light of your explanation. Although maybe not as bluntly stated. “Chip, what are some of the difficulties that you didn’t foresee when you brought a world-class open wheel driver into NA$CAR?” “Chip, what were the behind the scenes issues that were involved in bringing Felix Sabates’ stuggling Cup teams up to speed?” “Chip, Penske is the last powerhouse team to run a Dodge. Their performance increased significantly when Dodge pulled out of the sport. Do you think that Dodge’s engineering division supported NA$CAR adequately?”
So the cheerleader tone of the article is still doing absolutely no justice for the topic that you wish to cover. You start out with the idea that running a race team isn’t a part time job anymore. True enough, it hasn’t been since the mid ’80s. Not exactly news. Then you go on to their 2010 accomplishments, that offers no insights into the successful running of a race team. From there it’s on to the Ganassi marketing plan of one team in 3 or 4 divisions, and there is very little substance. Just a commercial for somebody looking to invest anywhere from a few thousand to several million dollars.
In the end, I know nothing more about the operations of a front office in racing, than I did before I read your article. What was the purpose of the article again? Oh yeah, to educate me about the intricacies of running a race team. Job NOT done.
@ Rephil: I never said that Ganassi’s operations don’t deserve to be lauded as successful. I am saying, “ask the difficult questions.” For some reason, journalists today seem to think that grilling an interwiewee is a crime. Why?
I have been a fan of Ganassi’s IndyCar teams since long before the split. I am dying to hear the reason why Chip had so much trouble finding speed in stock cars. Am I the only one? If an article is about “The value of creating value“ shouldn’t at least a part of the article be devoted to the DIFFICULTIES of creating value in a struggling racing operation? Apparently not!!! It’s just supposed to celebrate the fact that he made it, and not examine the work that it took.
it seemed to me the point of the article was more to talk about his over arching owner formula of having three successful smaller teams in three different series was a better plan to get sponsers and be successful instead of one all or nothing big team like hendrick (who is having trouble finding sponsership for Gordon). And the quotes were from Lauletta, they weren’t interviewing Ganassi.
I do admit that those questions would be great and I would love to see an article that discusses those with Ganassi himself.