MWR co-owner talks of ‘integrating’ with Ganassi, challenges teams owners facing

2 Comments

LONG POND, Pa. – Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman said Saturday that he’s “integrating’’ the organization with Chip Ganassi Racing, but if both MWR teams are part of the change remains to be seen.

Kauffman issued a 2-minute, 30-second statement and didn’t take any questions.

Kauffman, chairman of the Race Team Alliance, also spoke about the business model for team owners and his belief that more consolidation will take place in the sport.

Both MWR and Chip Ganassi Racing confirmed this week that Kauffman has agreed to purchase an interest in the Ganassi organization.

What that means for Michael Waltrip Racing is uncertain. SportsBusinessDaily.com reported this week that Kauffman would take the No. 15 team of Clint Bowyer with him to Chip Ganassi Racing.

“I think it’s important to realize that Michael and I own Michael Waltrip Racing, we control Michael Waltrip Racing together, we’re business partners, we’re great personal friends, so any idea that I’m leaving or taking anything is actually misplaced,’’ Kauffman said Saturday. “What we’re really doing is integrating the business, trying to get the most competitive product on track, do the best for all of our partners. That’s really our focus.’’

Felix Sabates a partner with Ganassi issued a statement this week, noting that a three-car team is stronger than a two-car team, leading to speculation that only one MWR team would be a part of the Ganassi team with Kauffman.

“In terms of our plans, whether we have three cars, four cars, two roofs, one roof, that’s all yet to be determined,’’ Kauffman said. “How we do in the 2015 season will help determine whether it happens. If we do a great job, that will be one outcome. If we do a less great job probably another (outcome), and I think it should be pretty obvious to people.’’

Kauffman, who as leader of the Race Team Alliance, is working to help teams cut costs and make money together, also spoke of the economic climate for teams.

Car owners have been talking about their hope that a franchising system could be in place by next season. Owners have said they’re hearing about a medallion program that shares a common principle with taxi medallions used in large cities that limit the number of cabs but enhances the value of each.

“Everyone knows that teams are under quite a bit of pressure,’’ Kauffman said. “On the business side, it’s very difficult for the teams to maintain a sensible business model. That’s partly why the impetus of the Race Team Alliance was formed – to help reorganize teams and focus them on improving the business model together with NASCAR and our other partners. We’re making some good progress on that.

“I think you’re going to see more consolidation along the way as businesses mature. I’d say there aren’t really one or two-car teams that aren’t affiliated with much larger organization. I think the day that you can have a lone wolf and be successful in this sport are long past. I think this is another chapter in the book of this stuff.’’