Trackhouse purchases Chip Ganassi Racing’s NASCAR operation

1 Comment

Trackhouse Racing co-owner Justin Marks announced Wednesday that his Trackhouse Entertainment Group has purchased Chip Ganassi Racing’s NASCAR operation.

The deal will be completed following the 2021 Cup season. No financial details of the transaction were revealed.

As part of the purchase, Trackhouse Racing will acquire Chip Ganassi Racing’s two charters and expand to a two-car Cup program in 2022.

Daniel Suarez, who currently drives Trackhouse’s No. 99 Chevrolet, will continue with the organization. The second driver will be named at a later date.

Marks said he has a short list of drivers to consider for the second ride. He said current Ganassi drivers, Kurt Busch and Ross Chastain, would be on that list. Busch is in the final year of his contract with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Marks, who has said he hopes to relocate his team to Nashville, Tennessee, as early as 2023, said that Trackhouse will operate out of Chip Ganassi Racing’s shop in Concord, North Carolina, in 2022.

Ganassi said in a statement: “I can honestly say that my NASCAR team was not for sale. Justin simply came to me with a great offer and an even better vision.”

In a press conference Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, Marks said he first talked to Ganassi two months ago and discussions progressed quickly. Marks described his move as “calculated but ambitious.”

The purchase carries some personal emotions for Marks, who told of how Chip Ganassi Racing has been a big part of his life and racing career.

Marks and his father were at the 1996 Laguna Seca Indy-car race where Ganassi driver Alex Zanardi made his famous pass in the “Corkscrew” to win, while Zanardi’s teammate, Jimmy Vasser, clinched the CART championship.

Twenty years later, Marks claimed one of his biggest wins behind the wheel for Ganassi in a rainy NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio.

Now, Marks will continue to build his own organization on the foundation Ganassi has built.

“Being at this moment right now, it does truly feel like just another part of a great motorsports story,” Marks said. “There’s a lot of work to do for us at Trackhouse, but there’s a lot of enthusiasm to do that work.”

Trackhouse, which holds a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing, has had a respectable first Cup season. Through 19 races, Suarez is 18th in Cup points. With seven regular season races left, he is 48 points behind Busch for the final playoff position.

Suarez has earned three top-10 and nine top-15 finishes. His best result this season is fourth in March at the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt race.

Chip Ganassi Racing will maintain its current programs in the NTT IndyCar Series, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and Extreme E. Those programs are based in Indianapolis.

Ganassi, who was also at the Hall of Fame for the announcement, emphasized that even though he’ll be stepping away from NASCAR, he was bullish about its future and its influx of new team owners like Trackhouse’s co-owners Marks and musician Pitbull.

“I think it’s on an uptick,” he said. “I look at my 20 years and say, ‘Hey, I’m 63 years old. What am I going to do? Am I going to do this for 10 more years or something?’ I just think we seem to be in a period of time where there’s some movement going on, some new, fresh young blood coming in.

“Like I said, our team wasn’t for sale. I wasn’t planning on selling it. Quite frankly, no one ever offered to buy it in 20 years. I just thought it was something I should listen to. … And I’m not going away from racing. So, I’ll be around.”

Since expanding into NASCAR in 2001, Chip Ganassi Racing has earned 19 Cup race wins. Among them are Jamie McMurray‘s victories in the 2010 Daytona 500 and 2010 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Other notable drivers that have competed for the team include Kyle Larson, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Sterling Marlin.

Alex Bowman confident as he returns to racing from back injury


CONCORD, N.C. — Alex Bowman watched the rain-filled skies over Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday with more than a touch of disappointment.

As weather threatened to cancel Saturday night’s scheduled NASCAR Cup Series practice at the speedway, Bowman saw his chances to testing his car — and his body — dissolving in the raindrops. NASCAR ultimately cancelled practice and qualifying because of rain.

MORE: Wet weather cancels Charlotte Cup practice, qualifying

Bowman suffered a fractured vertebra in a sprint car accident last month and has missed three Cup races while he recovers. Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, the season’s longest race, is scheduled to mark his return to the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet.

“It would have been really nice to kickstart that with practice today,” Bowman said. “I haven’t raced or competitively driven a race car in a month. I’m trying to understand where my rusty areas are going to be and where I’m still good.”

Bowman ran 200 laps in a test season at North Wilkesboro Speedway this week, but, of course, that doesn’t compare with the faster speeds and tougher G-forces he’ll experience over 400 laps Sunday at CMS.

Bowman admitted that he is still experiencing pain from the back injury — his car flipped several times — and that he expects some pain during the race. But he said he is confident he’ll be OK and that the longer race distance won’t be an issue.

“I broke my back a month ago, and there’s definitely things that come along with that for a long time,” he said. “I have some discomfort here and there and there are things I do that don’t feel good. That’s just part of it. It’s stuff I’ll have to deal with. But, for the most part, I’m back to normal.

“I’m easing back into being in the gym. I’m trying to be smart with things. If I twist the wrong way, sometimes it hurts. In the race car at the end of a six-hour race, I’m probably not going to be the best.”

The sprint car crash interrupted what had been a fine seasonal start for Bowman. Although winless, he had three top fives and six top 10s in the first 10 races.

“I’m excited to be back,” Bowman said. “Hopefully, we can pick up where we left off and be strong right out of the gate.”

He said he hopes to return to short-track racing but not in the near future.

“Someday I want to get back in a sprint car or midget,” he said. “I felt like we were just getting rolling in a sprint car. That night we were pretty fast. Definitely a bummer there. That’s something I really want to conquer and be competitive at in the World of Outlaws or High Limits races. Somebody I’ll get back to that. It’s probably smart if I give my day job a little alone time for a bit.”




Charlotte NASCAR Cup Series starting lineup: Rain cancels qualifying


CONCORD, N.C. — William Byron and Kevin Harvick will start Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the front row after wet weather cancelled Saturday night qualifying.

Rain pelted the CMS area much of the day Saturday, and NASCAR announced at 3:45 p.m. that Cup practice and qualifying, scheduled for Saturday night, had been cancelled.

MORE: Alex Bowman confident as he returns to cockpit

The starting field was set by the NASCAR rulebook.

Following Byron and Harvick in the starting top 10 will be Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The elimination of the practice session was particularly problematic for Alex Bowman, scheduled to return to racing Sunday after missing three weeks with a back injury, and Jimmie Johnson, who will be starting only his third race this year. Johnson will start 37th — last in the field.

Charlotte Cup starting lineup

Wet weather cancels Charlotte Cup Series practice, qualifying


CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR Cup Series drivers will start the longest race of the season with no practice or qualifying.

Wet weather and predictions of more to come led NASCAR to cancel Saturday night’s Cup Series practice and qualifying in mid-afternoon. The field for Sunday’s 600-mile race was set by the NASCAR rulebook, placing William Byron and Kevin Harvick on the front row for the  scheduled 6 p.m. start.

MORE: Charlotte Cup starting lineup

MORE: Alex Bowman confident as he returns to cockpit

Weather also could be an issue Sunday as more rain is predicted for the speedway area.

Drivers were scheduled to practice at 7 p.m. Saturday. That session was to be followed by qualifying at 7:45 p.m. The cancellations were announced at 3:45 p.m.

The time-trial cancellation marked the first time in 64 years that qualifying has been canceled for the 600.

Charlotte Xfinity race postponed to Monday by weather


CONCORD, N.C. — Persistent rain forced the postponement of Saturday’s scheduled 300-mile NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway to Monday.

The race is scheduled to start at noon ET. It will be televised by FS1 and broadcast by the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Driver introductions and other pre-race activities were held at the track Saturday, but rain that had dampened the track in the morning hours returned. After several attempts at drying the track, the race was postponed after heavier rain returned in mid-afternoon.

Justin Allgaier will start the race from the pole position.