Trackhouse purchases Chip Ganassi Racing’s NASCAR operation

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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.

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.

 

Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?

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Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.