ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — Denny Hamlin says Trackhouse Racing’s purchase this week of Chip Ganassi Racing, while surprising, doesn’t impact 23XI Racing’s pursuit of a second charter.
Trackhouse Racing owner Justin Marks announced the purchase of Chip Ganassi Racing, effective after the season, on Wednesday.
“I thought it was a great move by Justin and the Trackhouse guys,” Hamlin said. “Did anyone really think Ganassi was for sale? I don’t think so. I also think that they’ve got those relationships (Marks has) driven with him before, so I’m sure he’s had dialogue with him. I think it’s good for our sport. A little sad to see Chip go. I really loved Chip and what he’s about. We gain and we lose with that deal.”
Hamlin, co-owner of 23XI Racing with Michael Jordan, has said that the team seeks to add a second team to join Bubba Wallace‘s team as soon as next year. The team also seeks a charter.
Four charters will change hands after this season. Kaulig Racing purchased two of Spire Motorsports’ charters for a reported price of more than $10 million for each. Marks’ purchase of Ganassi’s team — no financial details were disclosed — moves Ganassi’s two charters to Trackhouse Racing.
23XI Racing is among those in the market for a charter. GMS Racing has announced plans to run in Cup next year, although the team has not publicly stated if it would be a full-time or part-time Cup effort.
“I think every team owner has to weigh what the risk is, weigh what the outlook looks like,” Hamlin said about if a merger with another team or purchasing another team would be a better option than just buying a charter. “I think this thing, like I said last week, you still have to have big money and sponsorship if you want to compete.
“Every team owner, whether it be in the front of the pack, middle of the pack or back (has to) think about whether this business model is going to work for them. There’s all kinds of avenues you can take to get a charter.”
As for 23XI Racing’s efforts to secure a charter, Hamlin said: “We’ve looked at a lot of things and are still looking at all options.”
On the track, key for Hamlin is his race with Kyle Larson to win the regular-season championship and the 15 playoff points that go with it.
Hamlin leads Larson by two points entering Sunday’s Cup race at Road America (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC).
Hamlin has led the points since the second race of the season. He took command by scoring eight top-five finishes in the first nine races but did not have a victory in that span.
Larson has gained more than 100 points on Hamlin to close the gap.
“I look at it and it’s like the first 10 races we did what he was doing, short of winning,” Hamlin said of Larson. “Then the page flipped. … Pitting on the last lap three weeks in a row, we’ve really not optimized our day over the last few weeks.
“On top of that, Hendrick (Motorsports) and the Chevy in generals have taken a big leap in the competition side. Frankly, the way I feel like the last two months have been, the fact that we still have something close to the lead is pretty amazing.”