Chip Ganassi Racing is hoping that history will repeat itself, except this time in a points race.
On Wednesday, Ganassi’s NASCAR team hosted Carolina Panthers’ head coach Ron Rivera at its Concord, N.C. shop, where the NFL coach gave a 20 minute motivational speech.
It was the second time the fourth-year coach had spoken to the team.
The first time, Jamie McMurray won the 2014 Sprint All-Star Race days later. Should history repeat itself, either McMurray or Kyle Larson would earn a much needed win this weekend in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Doing so would help lock them into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
“He’s been a really good friend of (team co-owner Felix Sabates), and he’s become a really great friend of our team’s, and I’ve become a real big fan of his,” McMurray told NASCAR.com. “When you watch on TV and watch other sports, I don’t know that you appreciate everything that goes into it and how talented people are behind the scenes but he is an amazing guy and he is where he is because of his ability.”
With seven races left before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins, McMurray is the only CGR drive eligible. He is 11th on the Chase grid of 16 drivers and could possibly get in on points despite not having a win. Larson is much farther back in 21st, also without a win.
“I know at the end of the day, they’ve still got seven weeks left,” Rivera said. “They have every opportunity to get into the Chase for the Cup, so who knows. That’s really the message, that they can control it. They control their own destiny and the truth of the matter is, on any given Sunday, they’re the best race team and they’ve got a chance to win.”
Rivera pulled off something of a coaching miracle in 2014 with the Panthers. He guided the team to wins in its last four games of the season after six-straight losses, earning a 7-8-1 record and the NFC South title in a weak division.
“My message is to make sure everyone’s doing what they want to do and everybody’s doing what the group wants to do because at the end of the day, if somebody’s not on board and doing the things that they need to do to give you a chance to win, you’re not going to win. Also, the parallel being that last year as a football team, we started hot then had our problems. Same thing with these guys — they started hot and have had their problems.”