Contract Status: Driver: 2015+; Primary Sponsor, Target: 2015(?)
Target Shifting Funds, one Indycar team; one NASCAR team: Three-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon will return for a 14th season with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, though he will be one of only two drivers piloting the red and white bulls-eye cars next year. Target will go from two sponsored IndyCar entries to just one in 2015 as the retailer shifts spending to promoting its drivers. Target also sponsors #42-Kyle Larson, who just wrapped up NASCAR's top rookie honors in the Sprint Cup Series. "We are just reallocating dollars, there's no difference in anything else," said Dan Griffis, vice president of experiential marketing and alliances at Target. "I would put our investment in racing as the only full-time sponsor in both IndyCar and NASCAR, against any other sponsor in the sport." Ganassi and Target celebrated their 25th anniversary this year. The partnership began in open wheel, eventually grew to the sponsorship of two IndyCar entries, and expanded into both NASCAR as a primary sponsor and sports cars as an associate sponsor. "You don't know how fortunate I feel to begin another season partnering with Target in both IndyCar and NASCAR," Ganassi said Tuesday. "They have been far more than a partner for a very long time and have been so committed to the sport of auto racing. I am also very much looking forward to their new marketing campaign that supports the racing program. I know it will be fantastic." But as the retailer increased spending on the sponsorship of cars, it got away from the popular commercials it produced in the 1990s starring Vasser, Alex Zanardi, Montoya and an occasional cameo by Ganassi. Target will now try to recapture some of that buzz in new marketing strategies that will debut next year and feature Dixon and Larson. Griffis said the two drivers will not appear together in any broadcast spots, but each ad will have different versions.(Associated Press)(12-10-2014)
NASCAR Next Alumni Sweep Sunoco Rookie of the Year Awards: For the first time since the NASCAR Next initiative was created in 2011, three of its alumni captured the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Awards in NASCAR's national series. Kyle Larson took home the honor in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Chase Elliott added the accolade to his resume in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Ben Kennedy earned the recognition competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
"The 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year class is a testament to the massive effort put towards developing our next generation of stars through the NASCAR Next initiative," said Jill Gregory, NASCAR senior vice president of Industry Services. "We congratulate all three honorees and look forward to watching them accomplish great things in the future."
The winner of last season's NASCAR Nationwide Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, Larson, 22, is only the sixth driver to also claim the honor in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He defeated runner-up Austin Dillon by 88 points behind eight top-five and 17 top-10 finishes. A graduate of NASCAR's Drive for Diversity (D4D) program, Larson placed second in three races and won a Coors Light Pole Award. He pilots the #42 Target Chevrolet SS for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Elliott - 18 years, 11 months and 18 days - became the youngest and first rookie champion in NASCAR national series history when he captured the NASCAR Nationwide Series title. The #9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet driver won three races and ended his season on a streak of 14 top-10 finishes. A native of Dawsonville, Georgia, Elliott will return to the series next season to defend his title. He finished 47 points ahead of second-place Ty Dillon in the final NNS Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award standings.
Kennedy, 22, was the highest rookie finisher in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series-best eight races. Kennedy tied Tyler Reddick atop the rookie standings, winning the tiebreaker thanks to a final championship points position of ninth. Kennedy drove his #31 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado to a career-best third-place finish at Martinsville in March.
"Sunoco has been a proud supporter of NASCAR's rising stars through the Sunoco Rookie of the Year program for the past decade," said Cynthia Archer, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Sunoco. "This year's award winners represent the youthful exuberance and competitive drive that define this award and we couldn't be more excited to see what the future holds as their careers advance."(NASCAR)
See the 2014 Rookie of the Year page for rules, standings and more.(11-17-2014)
Larson Comments on Newman's Move UPDATE...more: #42-Kyle Larson called #31-Ryan Newman's last-lap actions Sunday "a little upsetting" but said he understood Newman's desperation and "can't fault him for being aggressive there.'' Needing to pass Larson to secure the final spot in the championship round, Newman dive-bombed the rookie on the last lap at Phoenix International Raceway. Newman's car slid up the track and hit Larson's car, sending it toward the wall. That allowed Newman by, giving him a shot at the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. By advancing, Newman eliminated #24-Jeff Gordon from title contention. "Coming to the finish, there were a lot of cars racing really hard,'' Larson said in a statement provided to Motor Racing Network by Chip Ganassi Racing. "I knew (Newman) was right around me and knew he needed to gain some spots to keep from getting eliminated from the Chase. It's a little upsetting he pushed me up to the wall, but I completely understand the situation he was in and can't fault him for being aggressive there. I think a lot of drivers out here would have done something similar if they were in that position."(Motor Racing Network)(11-10-2014)
More comments: Larson, met with members of the media at Homestead-Miami Speedway and discussed his conversation with Ryan Newman this week, the transcript in part:
Q) DO YOU WANT TO KICK RYAN NEWMAN'S BUTT AFTER LAST WEEK?
Larson: "No, I didn't want to kick his butt. He called me this week and we talked. I told him I was upset for 10 minutes then I realized Ryan (Newman) knew what was on the line for him. I think there are a lot of people out here that probably would have done the same thing that he did. At least he is in the Chase; it would be a great move if he goes on to win the championship. Like I said, I get over things pretty quickly."
Q) WOULD YOU HAVE DONE THE SAME THING IF YOU WERE IN HIS POSITION?
Larson: "It's hard to really say until you are in that position. I got a ton of criticism a couple of years ago when I did an even probably worse move at a late model race. Yeah, I don't know, it's hard to say, but there is a ton on the line at that point."
Q) DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE STILL LEARNING WHAT IS ACCEPTABLE?
Larson: "Yeah, maybe a little bit. I think in the Cup series most people race with respect, so I think I've gotten a lot better with that throughout my career so far, last year in Nationwide and this year in Cup. I feel like I've gotten a lot better with give and take and things like that. With this new format it kind of throws a little different curve into it, where in the Chase each race is so important, so you see people take chances like that. Yeah, it's hard to say if you would do the same thing in that point in time."
Q) AFTER LAST WEEK WITH WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOU AND (RYAN) NEWMAN IN THE CLOSING LAPS ON SUNDAY IF YOU ARE RACING AROUND ONE OF THOSE FOUR WHAT DO YOU DO?
Larson: "I just race them how I have raced them all season long I think. Hopefully I don't get into any of them. I got into Ty Dillon here a couple of years ago and he was going for a Truck championship and I felt horrible after that. I don't want to go through that again. I'm going to try my best to get a win and if they are in front of me I'm definitely going to try and pass him, but not do anything stupid or crazy to ruin their chances of winning a championship. Because none of them have won a championship so I know how much it means to them."
Q) YOU TALKED TO RYAN VIA PHONE?
Larson: "Yeah, he called me Tuesday maybe."
Q) HOW DID THAT GO? WHAT WAS THE TONE LIKE?
Larson: "Oh it was fine. He said he was waiting for a coyote to stick it's head out so he could shoot it. He said he was out there on his farm, but I mean like I said I was upset for 10 minutes and I was over it. I understood the situation and what was at stake for him. He just kind of explained himself. I was totally fine. I like (Ryan) Newman a lot. I think he's a great driver. He came from an open wheel background so I have kind of always been a fan of his. Like I said I was over it pretty quick."(Team Chevy)(11-15-2014)
Chip Ganassi Racing signs PNC as sponsor: Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (CGRT) and The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. announced a new multi-year sponsorship agreement. The agreement is the second between Ganassi and PNC, which have also had a banking relationship that goes back 25 years. With the wide range of racing that CGRT participates in across three national touring series of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), the Verizon IndyCar Series and the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship (TUSC), the agreement provides PNC with business development and client entertainment opportunities throughout the year. The agreement will focus on the following five racing markets in 2014: Indianapolis, Atlanta, Chicago, Charlotte and Richmond, Va. PNC, which has a business presence in all five regions, will use the high interest in auto racing and the CGRT relationship to offer unique events and behind-the-scenes activities to clients and prospects.(CGR)(5-23-2014)
Target CGR Partners With the Oscar Mayer: Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (TCGRFS) has partnered with the Oscar Mayer brand to help introduce P3 Portable Protein Pack to the NASCAR community. The packs of meat, cheese and nuts are designed for active consumers looking for a snack to help keep them going throughout the day. It is a perfect fit with the on-the-go lifestyle of NASCAR drivers and crews. Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevy, and his pit crew will be carrying the P3 Portable Protein Pack branding on their familiar Target uniforms and car throughout the Southern 500 weekend in Darlington, SC, while Oscar Mayer P3 Portable Protein Pack will use the backdrop of a NASCAR race weekend to teach fans the virtues of the P3 Portable Protein Pack product.(CGR)(4-12-2014)
Ganassi explains why 'Earnhardt' is no longer part of team name: For the first time since 1996, there will not be a team in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series with "Earnhardt" in its corporate name. The string began in 1996 when the late Dale Earnhardt formed Dale Earnhardt Inc. In less than a decade, it had become one of the premier teams in Cup competition, with son and namesake Dale Earnhardt Jr. as its on-track figurehead. But once Junior left DEI for Hendrick Motorsports in 2008, the once-feared company began by the man they called The Intimidator began to slowly disappear. Now, the Earnhardt corporate name is essentially extinct. After an ill-fated and short-lived merger with Ginn Racing in mid-2007, team owner Teresa Earnhardt lent her company's name and some of its assets to fellow team owner Chip Ganassi, forming Earnhardt Ganassi Racing in 2009. In the year before Junior left the family fold, Earnhardt's widow also lent her late husband's surname to Richard Childress Racing to form a new business - known as Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technology - designed to build motors for both RCR and other teams that would lease the engines. But as the Earnhardt name lived on with other teams, Teresa Earnhardt withdrew more and more from being active in racing. She continued to oversee the still-thriving souvenir business that memorialized her late husband and kept his name and legend alive, but that was about it.
Now in 2014, what was Earnhardt Ganassi Racing for the last five seasons has reverted back to its original name prior to joining forces with Earnhardt, namely Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. And what was Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technology has quietly become simply ECR, with a team source telling MotorSportsTalk that "the E no longer stands for anything. It doesn't stand for Earnhardt. It's just ECR now."
Ganassi spoke to MotorSportsTalk at Daytona International Speedway on Friday about how the relationship with Teresa Earnhardt essentially disappeared with time, to the point where it no longer made sense to keep her late husband's surname as part of the team. "I wish I could explain it but I can't explain it," Ganassi said. "I don't have a good answer for you. We had a relationship and I don't know what happened. We can't get her on the phone; it's hard to try to communicate with somebody. She obviously has some other things on her plate, I guess, and that's her prerogative. She was never active in the team. I think she wanted to keep the name out there to some extent, and I don't know what Richard's (Petty) relationship is there (to Richard Petty Motorsports), but it's kinda the same thing. There's no ill will, I just don't have an answer, to tell you the truth. She just wasn't there anymore."(NBC Sports)(2-22-2014)
Chip Ganassi changes team name, drops Earnhardt from NASCAR operation: When Sprint Cup testing begins Thursday morning at Daytona International Speedway, there will be one well-known NASCAR name missing among the list of team owners. Earnhardt. The #1 and #42 Sprint Cup teams, which were run the last five years under the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates banner, will now return to their former name: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The sign outside the North Carolina shop already has been changed, and stickers on the cars and patches on the driver and crew uniforms will carry the Chip Ganassi logo instead of the EGR logo. Ganassi officials confirmed the change Wednesday but had no comment on the financial structure of the current organization, which fields Sprint Cup cars for Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson. Teresa Earnhardt, widow of seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt and owner of Dale Earnhardt Inc., has not been involved in the day-to-day operations of the team and with the change apparently no longer has any financial stake in the NASCAR operation. There will be no change in the operation of the Ganassi teams, as Teresa Earnhardt has had little influence on the organization's day-to-day operations. Ganassi began using Hendrick Motorsports engines in 2013 in its two Cup cars.(in part from the Sporting News)(1-9-2014)
Montoya moving to IndyCar with Penske: Team Penske announced that Juan Pablo Montoya will join the team in 2014. Montoya will drive the #2 Team Penske IndyCar for the full season as he will join Will Power and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the team's IZOD IndyCar Series lineup beginning next season. Montoya, 37, is a native of Colombia and he is one of the most accomplished drivers in the world. His career highlights include race wins in Formula One, NASCAR and the CART Indy Car Series. He is the only driver to produce victories in the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona and the Monaco Grand Prix. Montoya earned 11 IndyCar wins over two seasons as he captured the CART Series title in his rookie season of 1999 followed by a victory in the Indy 500 in 2000.
"I am really excited to join this legendary team beginning next year," said Montoya. "I have had the opportunity to drive for some of the best racing teams in the world and I have always admired Roger Penske and his organization. I consider it an honor to be offered the opportunity to drive for Team Penske."
"Juan is a proven winner at all levels of motorsport," said Roger Penske. "He has won a lot of races and championships and he has an extremely passionate fan base. We look forward to building on his successes together and we believe he will be a great addition to Team Penske."(Penske Racing)(9-16-2013)
Earnhardt Ganassi switching to Hendrick engines: The "Earnhardt" in Earnhardt-Childress Racing won't use the company's engines beginning in 2013. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing will use motors leased from Hendrick Motorsports starting next season, a team representative told reporters at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday. The move is surprising considering ECR was formed as a joint engine-building effort between Earnhardt Ganassi and Richard Childress Racing. EGR has struggled over the last two seasons with drivers #42-Juan Pablo Montoya and #1-Jamie McMurray, and team owner Chip Ganassi apparently felt a change was necessary in the engine program. RCR team owner Richard Childress said he wasn't surprised by Ganassi's decision to pull out of ECR and said he's been aware of the possibility for quite some time. Childress said his team will have "a couple" new customers next season - though he wouldn't say who - and also has an existing sponsor in Furniture Row Racing. ECR will retain its name because the teams "have a different relationship with the engines," Childress said.(SB Nation)(11-2-2012)
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, FL
Happy Hour Practice:
Saturday, February 21, 2015, TBA pm/et
Born in DECEMBER:
18 Ted Musgrave, Vic Irvan, Tom Polansky
19 Patty Moise, Paul Tracy, Sheldon Schrader, John Monsham
20 Erin Marco, Taylor Nicole Earnhardt, Kinsley Parsons
21 Michael McDowell, Travis Kittleson
22 David Pearson
23 Greg Biffle, Peter Sospenzo, Ray Dunlap, Chris Cook, Addison Frye
24 Fr. Steven Janoski, David Ragan, Krista Marie Allison, Mike Gooch
25 Jesus Christ, Charles Comstock, Randy Earnhardt, Jimmy Buffett, Starr Elliott, Butch Lamoreux, Curtis W. Key, Noel Schafer
26 Blair Makenzie Nemechek, Josh Mick
27 Mike Laughlin, Don Radebaugh
28 Nelson Stacy, Brittany Wallace, Joyce Kearns
29 Waddell Wilson, Boston Reid, Mike Bagley, Owen Kearns Jr., Jessica Stroupe
30 Fred Lorenzen, Donnie Mergard, Ryan Hemphill, Kole Kahne, Cooper Berrier
31 Beth Simons-Dykes, Dorthy Schrader, Riley Craven, Ryan Blaney, Joe Hicks, Benny Ertel
Born in JANUARY
1 The New Year, Godwin Kelly, Scott Riggs, Dan Elliott
2 Robby Gordon, John Linville, Jimmy Lacroix, Karen Hensley, Robert Holt, Danny Baptista
3 Tony Eury Jr., Clifton "Coo Coo" Marlin, Joe Littlejohn, Michael Schumacher
4 Trent Owens
5 Dexter Bean, Dennis Connor
6 B.A. Wilson, Malcolm Young
7 Marty Houston, Cindy Page
8 Bobby Hamilton Jr
9 Mark Martin, Stephen Leicht, Briggs Pemberton, Bob Rahilly, Stephen Hawkins, Jim Rosenblum
10 Harry Gant, Larry McReynolds, Dennis Lacroix, John Mulloy, Rodger Ward
11 Brett Bodine, Jeff Hood, Shane Wallace
12 Lloyd Ruby, Brian Scott, Walter Ballard, Jacob Dallenbach, George Bignotti, Catlin Marie Waltrip, Randy Goss, Brian Taylor
13 Ernie Irvan, Kirk Hanson, Ron Denton, Earl Balmer
14 Mack Shirley
15 Scotty Hazlett, Chris Ostrander, Tim Andrews
16 A.J. Foyt, Dick Rathman, Bill Pappas, Harold Elliott, John Ambrose, Jeremy Clements
17 Lake Speed, Harry Hyde, Michael McSwain, Gabe Martin
18 Bill Davis, Christian Fittipaldi
20 Fireball Roberts, Ryan Pepe
21 Ernie Saxton, Roman Pemberton, John Willenborg, Robert Hughes
22 Ashton Lewis Jr., Sean Pragano, Rebecca Shepperd, Emma Blaney, Josh Pate
23 Bill Patterson, Emanuel Zervakis, Daryl Rasnake, Boris Said Jr., Matt Eversole
24 Greg Wallace, Scott Speed, Bob Schacht, Mike Harmon, Austin Cameron
25 Buddy Baker, Mike Broadwater, Harry Ranier, Chuck Hill
26 Scott Wimmer, Paul Newman, Troy Welty
27 Lake Speed, Jr., Jerry Robertson, Mike "Bubba" Hart, Gary Bradberry
28 Phillipe Lopez, Jimmy Cox, David Green, Randy Renfrow, Mark DeMarco, Kenneth Lankford, Timothy Morgan, Chase Miller
29 John Witske, Tommy Houston, Frank Mathalia
30 Wendy Venturini, Sean Caisse, Andy Eversole
31 Kevin Patrick Dowd, Shana Mayfield, Rick Wilson, Scott Lagasse Jr., Rex Hathcock, Tony Mullett, Jerick Johnson