Former NASCAR Xfinity driver Brennan Poole has filed a lawsuit against Chip Ganassi Racing and the agency that represented him, stating that the two “conspired” to terminate his association with sponsor DC Solar so the company could sponsor Kyle Larson’s Cup car this year.
ESPN.com first reported details of the lawsuit.
Poole drove in the Xfinity Series for Chip Ganassi Racing from 2015-17. He was winless in 83 series starts. He had eight top-five finishes and 36 top-10 finishes. He placed a career-high sixth in the points last season.
Poole is suing Ganassi and Spire Sports and Entertainment for breach of contract in a North Carolina court. He’s also suing Spire for breach of fiduciary duty and professional negligence. Poole also seeks punitive damages against both.
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According to the lawsuit: “(Chip Ganassi Racing) and Spire conspired and colluded to terminate the association between Brennan Poole and his primary sponsor DC Solar and to divert and misappropriate DC Solar from Brennan Poole to sponsor CGR in the 2018 Monster Energy Cup Series season. … CGR and Spire diverted DC Solar to CGR through deception, misrepresentation and the manipulation of the sponsor/driver relationship between Brennan Poole and DC Solar.
“In doing so, CGR violated the Non-Solicitation provision in the (driver services agreement). Spire violated the (personal management agreement) and breached the fiduciary duties it owed to Brennan Poole and, upon information and belief, committed acts of legal malpractice by taking actions that directly violated Spire’s duty to zealously represent its client, Brennan Poole.”
The lawsuit alleges:
— After the 2015 Xfinity season, Poole “expressed dissatisfaction with CGR” and informed Spire he wanted to move to JR Motorsports. “Spire discouraged Brennan Poole from such a move by telling him that JR Motorsports wanted $7.5 million to place a driver in one of its cars (more than Brennan Poole’s primary sponsor DC Solar was willing to pay) and that, in any event, there were no cars available at JR Motorsports. Spire encouraged Brennan Poole to remain with CGR, representing to him that he would move into CGR’s No. 1 car in the 2017 Monster Energy Cup Series season upon the retirement of Jamie McMurray at the end of the 2016 season.”
— Upon Ganassi announcing July 28, 2017 that Target would not return as the primary sponsor of Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet, the lawsuit states: “CGR began looking for a new sponsor to replace Target. CGR, directly and in secret actions and communications with Spire, began actively pursuing and developing a relationship with DC Solar with the ultimate goal of terminating the association of Brennan Poole and DC Solar and facilitating the diversion of DC’s sponsorship from Brennan Poole to CGR.”
— A representative of Richard Childress Racing approached Poole at the Richmond Xfinity race in Sept. 2017 about a Cup ride. The lawsuit states: The representative expressed “interest on the part of RCR for Brennan Poole to drive for RCR in the 2018 Monster Energy Cup Series season and asked Brennan Poole what his plans were for the upcoming season. The inquiry surprised Brennan Poole, given (Spire President Jeff) Dickerson’s prior representations that no Monster Energy Cup Series teams were interested in him.”
— The lawsuit states that “Spire was dismissive of RCR’s interest and told Brennan Poole that RCR is ‘fool’s gold’ and that RCR really was not interested in him. … On information and belief, Spire propagated a rumor that Brennan Poole was going to be driving the Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5 Monster Energy Cup Series car in 2018 so teams would not approach him.”
— “In September 2017, Chip Ganassi met with (Jeff) Carpoff (DC Solar CEO) and Spire at the Darlington NASCAR race. Neither Brennan Poole nor (his father) Tom Poole was invited or attended the meeting. Ganassi made a proposal for DC Solar to sponsor Larson in the No. 42 car for the 2018 Monster Energy Cup Series season. Ganassi told DC Solar and Spire that Jamie McMurray was not retiring, that he did not have funding to run a third Monster Energy Cup Series car for Brennan Poole to drive and that he needed sponsorship for the No. 42 car. Ganassi effectively pushed Brennan Poole out of a car and out of his primary sponsor relationship with DC Solar for the 2018 season, telling DC Solar to the effect “If Brennan Poole has not won on Saturdays, he is not ready for Sundays.”
Also in the lawsuit:
DC Solar paid $2.5 million to sponsor Poole in the Xfinity Series. He ran 17 races that year for Ganassi. In 2016, DC Solar paid $5.2 million to sponsor Poole in his first full season in the Xfinity Series. In 2017, DC Solar paid $5.5 million to sponsor Poole in Xfinity.
According to the driver agreement included in the lawsuit, Poole received a base salary of $225,000 for the 2017 Xfinity season. He would 50 percent of prize money for a win, 40 percent for a finish between second and 10th, and 30 percent for a finish between 11th and 20th. A championship would have been worth a $75,000 bonus to Poole.