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Brennan Poole files lawsuit against Chip Ganassi Racing

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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.

MORE: Chip Ganassi Racing, Spire Sports & Entertainment issue rebukes 

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.

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Zane Smith joins GMS Racing for full-time Truck Series ride

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Zane Smith will compete full-time for GMS Racing in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series next year, the team announced Tuesday.

Smith, 20, joins the team after competing part-time with JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series this year, where his best result in 10 races was fifth twice.

He will be GMS Racing’s fourth full-time entry next year, joining Brett Moffitt, Sheldon Creed and Tyler Ankrum. Sam Mayer will compete part-time.

Smith will have veteran Kevin “Bono” Manion as his crew chief.

“When I got the offer from Mike Beam asking me to run a truck full-time for GMS Racing, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” Smith said in a press release. “GMS is a championship-caliber team and to be a part of an organization like theirs is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m looking forward to working with Manion again. He has a lot of experience and I know we will be a great team.”

Manion, who has 24 wins across all three national NASCAR series since 2003, joins GMS Racing after serving as a crew chief for DGR-Crosley in 2019, including working with Rookie of the Year Tyler Ankrum. Manion was crew chief for Smith in 2018 when he made his Truck Series debut at Gateway and finished fifth.

“I am really excited to join GMS Racing and Zane (Smith) for the 2020 season,” Manion said in a press release. “With GMS Racing’s championship caliber equipment and Chevrolet support, we have all the resources to win some races and be in the hunt for the 2020 Championship. I got the opportunity to crew chief Zane (Smith) in his first Gander Trucks start in 2018 at Gateway and we worked really well together. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish next season.”

Sponsorship and an assigned truck number for Smith will be announced at a later date.

Penalty report from Homestead-Miami Speedway

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NASCAR issued four fines and one suspension for lug nut violations during its championship weekend in Miami.

Cup Series

Mike Wheeler, crew crew chief on Matt DiBenedetto‘s No. 95 Toyota, was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut.

Xfinity Series

Mike Shiplett, crew chief on Cole Custer‘s No. 00 Ford, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut.

Truck Series

Steve Lane, the owner of On Point Motorsports and crew chief on Danny Bohn‘s No. 30 Toyota, was fined $5,000 and suspended one points race for two unsecured lug nuts. The No. 30 truck competed part-time this season and made 16 starts. NBC Sports has asked the team if it will appeal the suspension.

Trip Bruce III, crew chief on Stewart Friesen‘s No. 52 Chevrolet, was fined $2,500 for one unsecured lug nut.

Other

NASCAR issued an indefinite suspension to Jeffrey Schmidt for violating its substance abuse policy.

Truck Series gets minor name change for 2020

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Four days after the end of the Gander Outdoors Truck Series season, NASCAR announced the series will receive a minor name change for the 2020 season.

The series will be called the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series when the season starts in February at Daytona International Speedway.

This is the second name change for the series in two years.

This season saw the name change from the Camping World Truck Series, which had been the title from 2009-2018.

Gander Outdoors and Camping World are owned by the same company.

Next year will also see a different name for the Cup Series. With the series going to a new sponsorship model, it will simply be called the NASCAR Cup Series.

Silly Season Scorecard: Post-Miami edition

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NASCAR’s championship weekend in Miami has come and gone and with it came a flurry of driver announcements from teams about the 2020 racing season.

Among them was the news that Cole Custer is being promoted by Stewart-Haas Racing to the Cup Series, where he will take over the No. 41 Ford driven by Daniel Suarez this year.

Here’s a look at all the official driver announcements made so far for next season.

OPEN RIDES ANNOUNCED FOR 2020

No. 38: Front Row Motorsports must replace David Ragan, who stated Aug. 14 that 2019 would be his final season running a full schedule.

No. 36: Front Row Motorsports announced Nov. 13 it was parting ways with Matt Tifft so he could focus on his health following his seizure at Martinsville in March. Tifft said he could not commit to racing in 2020.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2020

No. 1: Chip Ganassi Racing announced on Nov. 1 a multi-year extension with Kurt Busch.

No. 6: Roush Fenway Racing announced Oct. 30 that Ryan Newman would return to the car as part of the news that Oscar Mayer would sponsor the No. 6 through 2021.

No. 8: Richard Childress Racing made it official Oct. 2 that Tyler Reddick will move to Cup in 2020 and drive the No. 8 car.

No. 10: Aric Almirola confirmed Oct. 11 he signed an extension to race for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon posted a video Sept. 6 on Instagram refuting rumors that he would retire after this season. He has a contract with Germain Racing through 2020.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer was announced Oct. 17 as returning to Stewart-Haas Racing for a fourth season.

No. 17: Chris Buescher will take over the Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 ride in 2020 after the team announced Sept. 25 that it would part ways with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after this season.

No. 20: Joe Gibbs Racing announced Sept. 6 that it had signed Erik Jones to an extension. It is a one-year extension for the 2020 season.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto replaces Paul Menard at Wood Brothers Racing (announcement made Sept. 10). DiBenedetto’s deal is for 2020 only.

No. 41: Stewart-Haas Racing announced Nov. 15 Cole Custer will replace Daniel Suarez.

No. 95: Christopher Bell moves to Cup in 2020 and will drive for Leavine Family Racing (announcement made Sept. 24).

JTG Daugherty Racing: It was announced Oct. 16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will join Ryan Preece at the two-car team, essentially swapping seats with Chris Buescher. The team said that an announcement on car number and sponsor would come later.

Rick Ware Racing: JJ Yeley will drive one of the team’s three full-time rides.

AMONG THOSE YET TO ANNOUNCE DEALS FOR 2020

Daniel Suarez — The driver revealed Nov. 14  he would not return to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2020 after one season driving the No. 41.

Corey LaJoie – The driver hasn’t announced his plans for 2020, but he said in October he and Go Fas Racing were “working toward” him returning to the No. 32 Ford. The team announced on Nov. 1 it would enter a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing next year and that “2020 driver negotiations are still ongoing.”

Xfinity Series 

Ross Chastain – Kaulig Racing announced Oct. 15 he would compete full-time for the team in 2020 driving the No. 10 Chevrolet, joining Justin Haley.

Joe Gibbs Racing — Announced Oct. 17 Harrison Burton will drive its No. 20 Toyota full-time in 2020. Announced Oct. 31 Brandon Jones would return for a third year in the No. 19. Revealed Nov. 5 it would field a third full-time entry with Riley Herbst in the No. 18.

JR MotorsportsJustin Allgaier will return to the team for a fifth year in the No. 7 Chevrolet. The No. 8 car will be driven by Daniel Hemric for 21 races, Jeb Burton 11 races and Dale Earnhardt Jr. for one race. Noah Gragson will also return for a second season in the No. 9 car, while Michael Annett returns for a fourth year with the team in the No. 1 car.

Richard Childress Racing — Has not announced its driver plans for 2020, but Richard Childress said after Tyler Reddick claimed the Xfinity title that it would field a full-time entry.

Stewart-Haas Racing – The team has not announced plans for the No. 00 Ford with Cole Custer moving to Cup or whether Chase Briscoe will return to the No. 98.

JD MotorsportsJesse Little will compete full-time for the team.

Truck Series

GMS RacingDriver lineup will include Brett Moffitt, Sam Mayer, Sheldon Creed and Tyler Ankrum

Kyle Busch MotorsportsRaphael Lessard will drive the No. 4 full-time while Christian Eckes will drive the No. 18 full-time.

Hattori Racing EnterprisesAustin Hill will return to the No. 16 Toyota for a second year.

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