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Sources: Ganassi entertains Ford switch
Could Earnhardt Ganassi Racing fill the void at Ford Motorsports?
Given the current financial crisis at George Gillett’s Richard Petty Motorsports and the probability of only two cars in the stable should the company move forward, Ford certainly has room for an additional organization to join the fold.
While Chip Ganassi brushed off the possibility as “just a rumor” last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway, sources told FOXSports.com that Ford initiated discussions with the team in July, and a decision could come as early as next week at Talladega Superspeedway.
Ganassi is coming off the most successful year of his motorsports career. Not only did his team win the tour championships in both IndyCar and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, Ganassi drivers were victorious in the top three races in America — the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400.
Certainly, the depth of technology and data that Ganassi has to offer through competing in three different series has to be equally attractive to Ford, particularly with the lack of testing in NASCAR. Ganassi currently runs Chevrolet in NASCAR, Honda in IndyCar and BMW in Grand-Am. Ford competes in both NASCAR and Grand-Am.
In NASCAR, it has been a challenging season for Ford Racing. Despite the powerhouse of talent at Roush Fenway Racing, Greg Biffle has been the only driver able to carry a Fusion to Victory Lane. Matt Kenseth’s last wins came consecutively at the start of the 2009 season with the Daytona 500 and Auto Club 500 65 races ago. And Carl Edwards, who the media selected to unseat Jimmie Johnson for the 2009 title, has been winless since 2008. In the RPM camp, Kasey Kahne, the only driver to win since Gillett purchased the organization, left the company this week.
Although Ganassi’s NASCAR drivers Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya failed to make the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup field, the pair has delivered four wins this year. McMurray, who won the Daytona 500 in his return to Ganassi this season, moved from Ford’s Roush Fenway Racing at the end of last year. In four years at RFR, McMurray posted just two wins.
Ganassi stands to benefit through the support the company would receive from Ford both on a financial and technological basis. When it comes to the pecking order at Chevrolet, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing lags far behind Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing, who shares an allegiance with Hendrick. At Ford, Ganassi would be second only to Jack Roush.
The area that would hit Ganassi the hardest would be the loss the company’s partnership with Earnhardt Childress Racing Technology engines — currently one of the top programs in the garage. ECRT engines have won eight races this season. Only Mark Cronquist’s engines at Joe Gibbs Racing have accounted for more (9) wins.
With teams already preparing for the 2011 season, ECRT has been told a decision will come from Ganassi by Talladega. ECRT currently provides engines for Richard Childress Racing, EGR and Tommy Baldwin Racing. Furniture Row Racing will join the program next year.
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