2016 Team Preview: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

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CHIP GANASSI RACING WITH FELIX SABATES

SPRINT CUP DRIVER LINEUP: Jamie McMurray (crew chief Matt McCall), Kyle Larson (Chad Johnston).

XFINITY DRIVER LINEUP: Part of HScott Motorsports with Chip Ganassi; drivers splitting duties are Kyle Larson, Brennan Poole and Justin Marks (crew chief is Mike Shiplett).

CHANGES: Chad Johnston joins Larson’s team as crew chief after serving in the same role with Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing. Johnston replaces Chris Heroy, who is now crew chief for Brian Scott at Richard Petty Motorsports… Former Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman is now a minority owner of CGR.

DID YOU KNOW: Team owner Chip Ganassi recorded the fastest rookie qualifying speed in the 1982 Indianapolis 500, faster than fellow rookies Bobby Rahal and Danny Sullivan, who both eventually won the 500 as drivers (while Ganassi has won it several times as a team owner).

EXPECTATIONS: After struggling during his sophomore season, Larson enters his third full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series. Will this be the year he finally earns his long anticipated first Sprint Cup win, as well as making the Chase for the first time? As for McMurray, he made the Chase for the first time in his career last season and looks to build upon that, as well as his strong performance in the second half of 2015.

WHAT THEY SAID:

– “You’ve got to finish races. That’s probably the biggest thing I’ve learned. That’s the biggest thing I still need to work on. I’ve had a lot of DNFs and that takes you out of contention to make the Chase. A lot of them were mechanical, but a lot of them were also my doing. Just being more patient. There’s a lot of times where they’ve been mechanical failures but they’ve been probably mistakes I made in the race car. Shifting or abusing the tires and blowing the tires. I’ve just got to get better at being patient,” Kyle Larson said.

– “The fact that we had three different rules packages (last year), we didn’t put a lot of effort into the high-drag and the low-downforce package. There was a little bit of effort, but minimal because we knew we were going to make the Chase at that point and we wanted to run as well as we could in the Chase. There were only so many resources and so much time. I don’t feel like we put the same effort in that a Gibbs or a Hendricks did. Taking with Matt (McCall) and the other engineers at our shop, they have made significant improvements from Darlington and Kentucky. So I think from a team side, the gains we have made should be bigger than, hopefully, what the other guys already have,” Jamie McMurray said.

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