Chip Ganassi Racing, with split headquarters in Concord, North Carolina and Indianapolis, Indiana, has grown since its founding in 1990 to become one of the heaviest hitters in American motorsport. The team currently fields cars in IndyCar, IMSA, Extreme E, and NASCAR Cup. At the end of this season, however, the NASCAR operations will be sold off to Trackhouse Racing. If you’re not familiar with Trackhouse, the team debuted this season as a joint venture between racer Justin Marks and Grammy-winning artist Armando Christian “Mr. Worldwide” “Pitbull” Perez.
On Wednesday Trackhouse announced that it would be buying the entire NASCAR operations of Chip Ganassi Racing, including its two charters for the 1 and 42 teams. For the 2021 season, the team is leasing its charter from Spire Motorsports in order to run the 99 car for Mexican racer Daniel Suarez. The team will grow to a two-car effort in 2022, though the second driver and sponsors have not yet been announced. The team will continue to employ Suarez next season, which stands to reason as he has delivered nine top-15 finishes, including two top-10s and a top-5 at the Bristol dirt race in March.
Update Wednesday June 30, 2021 8:10 p.m.: This story has been updated to clarify that Daniel Suarez has already been confirmed to drive one seat for Trackhouse in 2022, while the other seat remains unfilled.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s history in NASCAR actually has three different origin stories, as it has grown from the seeds of SABCO and Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Back in 1989 Cuban entrepreneur Felix Sabates started SABCO Racing when he purchased assets from Hendrick Motorsports. In 2001 Chip Ganassi bought 80 percent of the SABCO effort, renaming the team Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, and bringing Dodge onboard as an engine supplier. Then in 2009 the team partnered with DEI, briefly forming Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The team dropped Earnhardt and Sabates names in 2014, and Sabates retired in 2020. That’s the quick hit version of the team’s history, but there you have it.
In 2020 CGR’s most talented driver outed himself as a disgusting racist on a live stream. To Chip’s credit, the kid was pretty much immediately fired, though it was done after major sponsor McDonalds dropped their support of him.
Man, if I were Chip Ganassi, after the DC Solar thing and the N word thing, I’d leave NASCAR, too.
New team boss Justin Marks has indicated that both of CGR’s current drivers, Kurt Busch and Ross Chastain, will be considered for the second spot on the team in 2022, alongside current driver Daniel Suarez. Busch is currently sitting 14th in the points standings with a top-5 and four further top-10s, while teammate Chastain is down in 22nd, despite a 2nd and a 4th place finish to his name. Suarez, meanwhile, is ranked 18th, despite running for a much smaller team with fewer resources.
“You reflect on 20 years of being in a particular business, in a particular sport, there’s been good things and bad things when you look back on it,” said Ganassi. “Generally, it’s been a positive thing. I’ve felt best about what Justin was saying about our team and our people going forwards, and that’s important to us. That made it a little bit more palatable, sure.”
Ganassi made it pretty clear that his NASCAR team wasn’t exactly listed for sale, and he had no intentions of leaving the sport, but got an offer from Marks that he couldn’t refuse. He went on to confirm that he doesn’t plan to leave IndyCar, IMSA, or Extreme E, all of which are based out of the team’s Indianapolis facility. CGR has nine IndyCar championships and five sports car championships to its name. It currently operates a Honda-powered IndyCar team and a Cadillac DPi sports prototype in IMSA, as well as the “factory” GMC Hummer team in the electric off-road series Extreme E.