One championship in 2015 is not enough for Chip Ganassi. He’s going for two.
Scott Dixon won the IndyCar championship for Ganassi two weeks ago. Now, Jamie McMurray – in his first appearance in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup – will try to do the same.
McMurray has come close to making the Chase in several past seasons. McMurray left Richmond 11th in the points in 2004 when the top 10 made the Chase. He was 14th when 12 made it in 2010. He’s had other years where he had a chance to make the Chase at Richmond but did not.
“This was a little sweeter to get him punched in there pretty solid,” Ganassi said.
And even though McMurray will start the Chase in a five-way tie for 12th place, Ganassi feels his driver has just as good of a chance as any of the other 15 Chase entrants to go out and win the championship.
“The final four, looks like it might be one team the way I’m looking at it lately,” he said. “I noticed for a while we were running first and second in class, but I think we were fifth and sixth.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but I certainly think we can drill deep into it. We’ll need a little bit of luck from there.”
Ganassi agrees with McMurray that his team has to step things up, particularly when it comes to getting speed out of its Chevrolets.
“(We’ve) been consistent all year,” Ganassi said. “We had speed at times, not when we needed it most. The components are there to win the race; we have all the same components as some of those guys that can win.
“We just need to make a better mousetrap with what we have to work with.”
It took McMurray 13 seasons to make his first Chase. He joins Paul Menard as first-time Chase contenders this year.
“Jamie has had some big wins, but we haven’t had the consistent speed that you need I think to win at any time,” Ganassi said. “I think we can run well at any track, but I don’t think we’re in a position to win right yet at any track. We have to work on that.
“For Jamie himself, I couldn’t be more pleased. I don’t think there’s anybody in the Chase that is more deserving of being there, that has worked so tirelessly over the years, been under the limelight, has had a couple disappointments along the way at times.”
This will also be the second time Ganassi has reached the Chase as a team owner. Juan Pablo Montoya did so in 2009. Before this season, co-owner Felix Sabates “guaranteed” that both McMurray and teammate Kyle Larson would make this year’s Chase.
Larson failed to back Sabates’ words.
“I’m not one of these guys that gets disappointed because one guy’s in and one guy’s not,” Ganassi said. “When you can punch somebody into the playoffs, that’s good for the whole team.
“We had an IndyCar championship a few weeks ago. That’s good for the whole team, that’s good for everybody. That just builds upon itself. Success is a snowball type of thing in the sports business. It’s an infectious thing. People gravitate to those kinds of events and those type of people that are successful in those events.”