by JamesJ, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
Sundays of my youth consisted of NASCAR racing and cold bottles of Mountain Dew. Thirty years later not much has changed for me. However, nearly everything has changed in NASCAR.January 4, 2010 11:32 am UTC 2 Comments
Over the next several weeks we’ll be featuring car numbers in NASCAR history. We started with #50 and are working our way down the line. With each car number we’ll take a brief look at a couple stats related to the featured car number, but we’ll primarily spotlight either a driver, sponsor, car owner, manufacturer or other significant subject closely tied to the car number of the day.
I’m gonna venture out of my comfort zone just a bit in today’s spotlight. “The Great American Race” is the Daytona 500, but today I’m going to use car #41 as as segue of sorts to do my first spotlight on a NASCAR team. This team’s owner, Chip Ganassi, attempted to transplant two open-wheel championship drivers, and winners of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” (the Indianapolis 500) into stock car racing.
Stats for all cars running the #41:
- Number of Races: 930
- Number of Wins: 22
- Number of Top 5s: 93
- Number of Top 10s: 182
- Number of Poles: 19
Check out current NASCAR race statistics here at On Pit Row!
Spotlight Subject: Chip Ganassi Racing
I’ll start by saying I’ve never been a huge open wheel fan. That’s not to say I haven’t watched my fair share of INDY 500 races though. As a Rusty Wallace fan, I was automatically a Team Penske fan no matter what sort of racing was going on. Roger Penske wasn’t the only car owner playing in both IndyCar and NASCAR. Chip Ganassi has both raced in and fielded cars as an owner in IndyCar, CART, Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series and NASCAR.
Chip Ganassi Racing has competed in Sprint Cup racing since 2001 after purchasing 80% of Felix Sabates’s SABCO Racing. For the 2009 NASCAR Cup season, Chip Ganassi Racing merged with Dale Earnhardt Inc.. Only one driver from Ganassi Racing- Juan Pablo Montoya -would move over to the new organization.
Most Recent Drivers for Chip Ganassi Racing:
For several years Chip Ganassi tapped into the talented Scott Pruett as a “road course ringer” when the NASCAR circuit made it’s way to Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glenn International. Much of Scott’s talent was exercised in open wheel racing during the 1990s in the Champ Car series where he logged 2 wins in 145 starts. Since 2001, Scott has been called upon nine times to either substitute for the regular Cup driver, or pilot an extra car for the Ganassi Racing team. In those eight races Scott posted 3 top five and 5 top ten finishes, giving him an average finish of 18.3 for all starts with Ganassi Racing. In 2007 Scott was on the receiving end of a “bump-n-run” in a much publicized Busch series finish. It came when Ganassi’s newest driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, booted him out of the way to steal a win in the Telcel-Motorola 200 in Mexico City.
Juan Pablo Montoya
Enter Juan Pablo Montoya. In 1999 he took home open wheel’s CART Championship and Rookie of the Year titles. The next year he would add to his trophy case by not only taking Rookie of the Year honors in IndyCar, but also the coveted Indy 500 trophy! Next on his list of things to conquer, NASCAR. He came onto the NASCAR scene in 2007 and as evidenced in the story above with Pruett, he was determined to succeed at almost any cost. In doing so, he in part set himself up for quite a bit of the negative reception he received in the Cup series. His answer was to exceed precisely where most thought he would do well, on the road course. With over a four second lead on second place, Montoya scored his first Sprint Cup win at the Infineon Raceway. Four races later the Cup series would roll into Indianapolis for the Brickyard 400. Montoya would make it an all Ganassi front row by putting his #42 Texaco Dodge on the outside pole while teammate Reed Sorenson put his #41 Target Dodge on the pole. Though he wouldn’t lead a lap during the race, he would bring it home in second less than 3 seconds behind winner Tony Stewart. 2009 was a great year for Montoya where enough consistency was shown (7 top fives, 18 top tens) to result in a Chase berth.
In 2008 Chip Ganassi tweaked his formula for success by fielding another open wheeler, Dario Franchitti. Dario finished in second place in the 1999 CART series championship to his new teammate at Ganassi Racing, Juan Pablo Montoya. While they both finished the season with the same points total, Montoya’s 7 wins bested Franchitti’s 3 wins. Dario has multiple wins in various series such as IndyCar, CART, and the British Formula Three Championship to name a few. Perhaps the most coveted is his 2007 Indy 500 win. Ganassi positioned Dario behind the wheel of the #40 for Sprint Cup competition. However, failure to qualify for races, poor performance, an ankle injury, and a lack of sponsorship closed the lid on Dario’s NASCAR career.
Reed Sorenson piloted the #41 for Chip Ganassi Racing from 2006 through the 2008 Cup season. Despite having zero wins in Cup, he was the veteran Cup driver amongst Ganassi Racing’s trio. Interestingly enough, Reed has one pole and it came in the 2007 season in the Allstate 400 at Indianapolis. Reed finished that race in 5th place, which gave Ganassi two cars in the top five.
His position at Ganassi Racing was a peculiar one. How does a 21 year old with more stock car experience than his teammates fit into the organization when those teammates bring such grand achievements? Imagine yourself at 21 years of age being teamed with two older drivers with huge celebrity status and elite success in open-wheel racing– including Indy 500 and series championships!
Reed had tremendous pressure to perform in 2008. The pressures on these drivers are great anyway, but my admiration for this young man went up quite a bit when considering his teammates. Unfortunately, the performance wasn’t there and when Chip Ganassi Racing merged with Earnhardt Racing for the 2009 season, Reed was let go and took a ride at Gillett Evernham Motorsports.
by Steve Wronkowicz
I am co-host of the syndicated radio show: ON PIT ROW. Over ten years on the air and three on the net; see what can happen when I don't let the facts get in the way of my opinions.June 22, 2009 8:38 pm UTC No Comments
Kasey Kahne wasn’t much of a road racer until winning the Toyota Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway on Sunday; taking the King of Beers and the King of NASCAR to victory lane.
Other than sitting on the pole in 2008, Kahne had done little when faced with going left and right to think that he would be able to take Richard Petty Motorsports back to victory lane. A journey that lasted ten years since John Andretti last won for The King. Andretti’s win came during the Petty Enterprises years; before mergers and re-locations made the once dominant team a mere shadow of itself.
There is very little of the old Petty Enterprises remaining in the new team owned by George Gillett. The win comes within days of Gillett announcing that he has sold his interest in the Montreal Canadians hockey team. Rumors have been circulating since the race in Michigan that RPM may be within weeks of a huge downsizing.
Could Kasey Kahne soon be the only driver left from the four that started the season? Elliott Sadler, AJ Allmendinger and Reed Sorenson could all be without a ride and Kahne could be in an un-supported Toyota soon. Petty let the cat out of the bag before the race at Michigan that Chrysler had not been sending checks and the money to run four teams was running thin.
That brings us to this week’s BUZZ ON PIT ROW:
With all the recent and pending changes at Richard Petty Motorsports again; what does Kasey Kahne’s win do for the team?
Let us know what you think and we could use your comments on this week’s ON PIT ROW radio show. Listen live every Tuesday from 5-7pm ET here. Or call the show at 800-645-2946 and if your call is voted the Shell Nitrogen Enriched Call Of the Day you will win a Kevin Harvick bobble head.
photo credit: Robert LaBerge/Getty Images for NASCAR
by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowApril 20, 2009 8:03 am UTC 4 Comments
Marlin made it to lap 54 before finding the wall too tough to turn down. Smacking the turn three wall brought out the first of six cautions and earned him my Wall Bait award of the race.
My pre-race favorite for the Wallie was Reed Sorrenson, but Reed stayed off the concrete and finished 12th. Nice job in the Richard Petty Racing no. 43.
Next week it’s Talladega Superspeedway. Who’s your pick for the Wall Bait trophy at the Big Track? There can be only one.
Photo credit: Icon Sports Media, Inc
by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowDecember 12, 2008 12:48 pm UTC 2 Comments
What would you get Teresa Earnhardt for Christmas? Our Mindy Monday says it’s not all sticks and stones for NASCAR’s 2007 Step Mother of the Year award winner. Maybe a case of Tasmanian wine (is there such a thing?) and a case of Juicy Fruit Gum.
by Chris Leone, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
I do weekly Fantasy Pick'Em columns here at OPR, as well as the occasional opinion and analysis piece. I also provide the IZOD IndyCar Series coverage. For more on that, head to my site, OpenWheelAmerica.com. My Twitter handle is @christopherlion.November 5, 2008 10:39 pm UTC 1 Comment
NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series enters the second-to-last race of the season at Phoenix with many teams still unsure about their 2009 plans. In recent years, most teams have already set their lineups for the following season by this point. However, plenty of drivers are still searching for employment, and plenty of teams are still attempting to put together the right packages to allow them to go racing next year.
A good amount of the field still lacks sponsorship for 2009 and beyond, and even top-tier teams are feeling the crunch. Longtime stalwarts such as Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing are having problems inking long-term deals in a crumbling economy. Four cars between them next season is a possibility, despite the teams running seven this year. Even Hendrick Motorsports recently had a modest round of layoffs that sent Stevie Reeves, Jimmie Johnson’s spotter, packing.
At last count, 35 full-time Sprint Cup seats have been filled by drivers for next season (not including Max Papis’ limited schedule with Germain Racing). Of those 35, cars for David Reutimann, Aric Almirola, Reed Sorenson, Ryan Newman, Juan Montoya, Bobby Labonte, and Chad McCumbee have either partial sponsorship or none altogether. Assuming that two open seats with full sponsorship (the No. 21 at Wood Brothers Racing and the No. 41 at Chip Ganassi Racing) are filled, and assuming the worst in regards to all other unsettled teams, we could only see 36 full-time cars attempting the race at Daytona.
This week’s Quick Hits is, in effect, a premature analysis of cause of death for some cars that may not be around come February. Be prepared to say farewell to any of the following next year:
5. No. 28 or 38 Yates Racing Fords: Yates has full-time sponsorship for Paul Menard from his family’s hardware store chain for one car next season. While team owners Doug Yates and Max Jones have suggested that they will add a third car for Menard, rather than replace either Travis Kvapil or David Gilliland, the team cannot afford to patch together limited sponsorships as they have this year.
The two current drivers have combined to run eight races with blank cars, and the majority of the rest with very limited sponsorship. Had Ford not filled in some holes earlier this year, the team would have run 15 of 72 races unsponsored. With many of those companies probably not returning in 2009, the team may only have enough sponsorship for one of its current drivers next year.
4. No. 22 Bill Davis Racing Toyota: With rumors of a buyout by Gillett Evernham Motorsports at a standstill, not much is known of the fate of this team. Bill Davis has entered this car in NASCAR competition since 1993, and whether Maxwell House, MBNA, or Caterpillar was on the car, it has never been unsponsored. Davis has had these issues with other cars before, but never with its mainstay Cup team.
Right now, the team’s best hope is that Toyota decides to move up its sponsorship from the Truck Series to this car, but that’s iffy at best. If the team puts Michael Annett in the car, they may attract sponsors based on his raw talent and potential, but the deals might be similar in nature to what Yates has been doing this year. Those life-support deals won’t be enough to sustain a team for too long.
3. No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing Toyota: This is a team in disarray under a relatively new owner partnership. The team has no alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota past this season, no bona fide driver (with Brad Coleman getting the shaft in most of the team’s recent deals), and less than a full season’s sponsorship from DLP HDTV.
Recent reports have had the team switching to Ford and partnering up with the Wood Brothers for 2009, reuniting the Woods with Ken Schrader, who currently drives the No. 96. The Woods claim that their sponsorship for 2009 is all set, meaning the two could collaborate on finding deals for the No. 96. Regardless, rest assured that without some sort of alliance, this team will not be around in 2009.
2. No. 77 Penske Racing Dodge: Rumors keep swirling that Sam Hornish Jr. is going to return to the IndyCar Series with Penske for 2009, possibly to replace Helio Castroneves, who is currently facing tax issues. Regardless of Penske’s potential need for its IRL team, however, the results haven’t been there. The best American open-wheel driver of this decade hasn’t been able to translate his skills to the heavier stock cars.
If Hornish stays, look for Mobil 1 to stay with him. Mobil has been a longtime Penske sponsor and had been looking to expand to a full-time primary for a couple years before Hornish’s arrival. If Hornish departs, however, they may replace Kodak on David Stremme’s No. 12 Dodge.
1. No. 01 and 15 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolets: No one can say they didn’t see this coming. The No. 01 has had minor partners at best all year, and the No. 15 has neither driver nor sponsor for 2009 with Menard’s departure. Regan Smith’s win (cough) at Talladega has drawn some interest, but most agree that Aric Almirola has more promise than Smith, and any sponsorship attracted would probably go there.
The team may be merging with Chip Ganassi Racing, which would afford Smith a shot at the No. 41, Almirola’s needs permitting. J.J. Yeley has also stated that $12 million in sponsorship would land him in one of those cars for next season, but given his underwhelming performance this year, it might be a longshot.
On a more positive note, however, congratulations to last week’s winners at Texas: Ron Hornaday, Kyle Busch, and Carl Edwards in the Truck, Nationwide, and Sprint Cup races, respectively.
by Chris Leone, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
I do weekly Fantasy Pick'Em columns here at OPR, as well as the occasional opinion and analysis piece. I also provide the IZOD IndyCar Series coverage. For more on that, head to my site, OpenWheelAmerica.com. My Twitter handle is @christopherlion.October 15, 2008 12:20 pm UTC 1 Comment
The Sprint Cup Series enters the second half of the 2008 Chase for the Sprint Cup this week, making its second visit of the year to the Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. Virginia is the home of many current and former Sprint Cup drivers, and currently boasts two drivers in the Chase, the second most of any state. Those drivers, Jeff Burton and Denny Hamlin, currently sit 2nd and 12th in points, respectively.
Interestingly enough, until his win last week at Charlotte, nobody in the Sprint Cup garage considered Burton a title threat. Ever since the Chase started, it’s been considered a three horse race, and Burton only found his way into that triumvirate by his stellar drive last weekend.
Originally, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, and Kyle Busch composed the top three contenders. After Loudon, Busch was replaced by Greg Biffle as the third horse, in most pundits’ eyes. Now, after Edwards’ second consecutive bad race, Burton finds himself in the top three, 69 points behind Johnson.
The question is, why did it take so long for pundits to recognize Burton as a legitimate title threat? His worst finish in the Chase so far is 9th, the same as Johnson’s. Each driver has one win in the Chase. Neither driver has sunk below their original seed in the standings since the Chase started (Johnson’s been above 3rd since Loudon, Burton started in 7th and hasn’t been there since Loudon either).
Of course, this week, everybody’s all over Burton’s chances to win his first career title. NASCAR.com’s headlines today say that Burton and Johnson have the same momentum going into the second half of the Chase. For the record, please note that Burton started the Chase 11th in NASCAR.com‘s power rankings, and didn’t rank higher than 6th until the Charlotte edition.
It’s as if he hasn’t been under the radar the entire Chase – although, if you check out the archives, it’s pretty obvious he has been.
But wait a second. Maybe it’s not the fault of racing pundits for missing Burton. Maybe it’s just the system.
Every time a driver has won a race, except for Biffle’s win at Dover, he’s improved his position in the points greatly. Biffle went from 9th to 3rd after winning Loudon. Johnson went from 2nd to 1st after winning at Kansas. Tony Stewart went from 11th to 7th after winning Talladega. And now, Burton went from 4th to 2nd after winning last week at Charlotte.
If this pattern continues, then it’s only going to matter who wins at Texas, Phoenix, and Homestead. Even though the standings are far more spread out than they were before Loudon, the Chase standings always reward the guy who won most recently.
If that’s the case, why bother trying to win the first seven races? As long as a driver survives all seven of them, he can go into the last three and go for wins and pull off an “upset.” Hey, Clint Bowyer sounds like he could fit that category – he hasn’t won in the Chase yet, but his worst finish is 12th, and he’s 5th in points.
It could happen. And if it does, we’ll know that the pundits aren’t the problem.
Here are this week’s Quick Hits:
5. Burney Lamar and former sponsor Dollar General will reunite at Braun Racing for 2009. Lamar will drive the No. 32 Toyota in the Nationwide Series for 18 races next year. Brian Vickers will drive the car for the other 17 races. This will be Dollar General’s first full-time sponsorship deal in Nationwide since 2007 at Kevin Harvick Inc.
4. Ray Evernham is currently considering leaving Gillett Evernham Motorsports for a full-time gig with ESPN. Evernham has emphasized his role as a minority partner in the team, no longer acting as a decision-maker, according to Dustin Long at the Roanoke Times. Evernham also says that he was not involved in the decision to release Patrick Carpentier from the No. 10 Dodge.
3. Michael McDowell is now a free agent, after Michael Waltrip Racing failed to exercise its contract option on him for 2009. McDowell’s car has no sponsorship for next season, and the owners’ points from his car will likely go to Marcos Ambrose’s No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Toyota next season.
2. Add J.J. Yeley’s name to the mix for the No. 41 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge next year. “Chip hasn’t said no,” Yeley told Tim Tuttle of Sports Illustrated. “My name is still on the list. It would be a great opportunity.” A.J. Allmendinger is the other rumored candidate for the ride, which will be vacated by Reed Sorenson after this season.
1. Just as I reported before the Kansas race, Unilever has left Gillett Evernham Motorsports to partner with Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5 Nationwide Series team. The car will feature Hellmann’s sponsorship for the Daytona race. Although I originally reported that Klondike would be the dominant brand, they will be featured on the car for later events. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, and Landon Cassill will share the car.
Finally, congratulations to last week’s winners at Charlotte: Kyle Busch in Nationwide, and Burton in Sprint Cup.