CHIP GANASSI (Owner Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Dodge Chargers) NOTE: Lone Star Steakhouse announced Sunday at MIS a multi-year partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates on the No. 40 Dodge Charger with driver David ...
CHIP GANASSI (Owner Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Dodge Chargers)
NOTE: Lone Star Steakhouse announced Sunday at MIS a multi-year partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates on the No. 40 Dodge Charger with driver David Stremme for 17 races in 2006. Coors Light will sponsor the No. 40 Dodge Charger in the other 17 NASCAR Nextel Cup races next season.
"We're always trying to match personalities and abilities. We haven't decided who will be the crew chief yet, but like I said, all our crew chiefs this year will be crew chiefs next year. This business is always like I said earlier. You're trying to come with a balance of people, something you can build upon, something you can go forward with. Nobody has been a greater partner, a greater value to this team than Sterling Marlin has been in the last eight years. Nothing more I'd like than for Sterling to win a race during the rest of the season. I hope Sterling is going to stay on with our team as an ambassador. He has a deal in front of him right now from us to maintain him with a personal services contract well into six figures that we hope.... We want him to be a part of this team as it goes into the future. I don't want to see him go anywhere, and like I said, I'd like nothing more than to see him win a race between now and the end of the season."
CAN YOU ADDRESS CASEY MEARS' STATUS? "You're always evaluating everybody on your team and not just the drivers. You're always looking at them. Casey has done a great job here. He's obviously not in the third year of his career, we were hoping for a little bit more performance. That's not to say that he's not going to be here next year. We have plans working all the time and I talked to Casey the other day and I said, 'hey, I've got a plan and you're in it.' That's what's going on right now. Is it nailed, nailed, nailed? No."
HOW ABOUT A FOURTH CAR? "You never know. It's certainly a possibility."
WILL STREMME RUN ANY CUP RACES THIS YEAR? "Yes, we're going to run David in four races this year starting in Chicago. Richmond, Homestead and somewhere else that's not on the top of my head right now. I don't know if it's going to be in the 39, but I think it's the 39."
IS STREMME READY FOR CUP? "Absolutely, you're talking about a guy who has come up through our development program. We've had him in Busch now for two and a half years and he's as ready as anybody out there."
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES THAT RANDY COX WOULD COME OVER AND BE STREMME'S CREW CHIEF? "Certainly they have some chemistry and certainly his name is in the mix. Like I said, I look for Randy Cox to be a crew chief next year. Whether that's with David or not, it hasn't been decided."
IS REED SORENSON READY FOR CUP? "The guy is leading the Busch points right now, so you never know. One could conclude that people would certainly be looking at him as the next person to come along."
YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE SOME YOUNG DRIVERS NEXT SEASON "Obviously I'd rather have older veterans that win races all the time. That model doesn't seem to be working right now in the sport. It doesn't mean that veteran drivers aren't valuable to a team. They are. When you have young guys on a team you're going to have a lot of what I'd call youthful exuberance. A lot of times youthful exuberance can translate into some wheels that aren't pointed in the same direction at the end of the day. That's part of the business. We've taken a lot of pride in the drivers we've brought along over the years in different series and this isn't any different."
DAVID STREMME COMMENTS ON SIGNING WITH GANASSI FOR 2006 CUP RIDE
"Today is my birthday and this is a great birthday present. They tell me when Bill (Elliott) signed with Coors he was 28 years old, and that's how old I am. Both Sterling and Bill have raced with Coors for eight years. It was something weird, and it's an honor for me that I can't put in words what an honor it is to drive this car. I'm a little emotional right now because I'm going to be racing against these guys. I remember seeing Sterling pulled off the first victory for Dodge here (in 2001), and it was really cool. A lot of people have paid a key part in this, and I'm real happy to be a part of the organization.
"We have a lot of crew chiefs in the organization. Obviously Randy and I have worked well together, but Steve Boyer is doing a great job. The thing is for them to finish out the year strong. We'll see toward the end of the year. Lee McCall is going to crew chief the car in the Cup races we run this season. A lot of the guys throughout the shop will pit the car. I'm going to run Chicago, Charlotte, Richmond and Homestead. We're only going to run four. The main focus will be to finish the year out in the Fitz-Bradshaw (Busch) car and get the Navy a win.
"The biggest challenge in Cup will probably be going to a couple of different tracks that I haven't been to before. I don't look at it as being any more challenging than it's been already. I've been with three different organizations trying to build three different teams and have had success in the Busch series. You look at most of the Busch companion races and you'll see a lot of Cup drivers in there. The biggest thing is just getting respect from those guys and having solid runs.
"I'm real excited about Chicago. Tomorrow and Tuesday we're going to be testing out there. It's something I've been looking forward to. We've been doing a lot of testing the Cup car for the organization at Nashville and Kentucky, so it's not like I'm stepping into a new program. I feel like I've been here. I'm real comfortable around everybody. It's nice to have that support behind you.
"It's been something that Chip and Felix and Loren Ranier and I discussed in 2002 and signing on as the first driver development driver, this is something we wanted to do and come here. It's something I feel that we've had success in the Busch Series getting the training that we needed. My main thing is to gain experience when I come to Cup so I can be competitive.
"I feel like I can get in the car now and we'll see how come Chicago how we'll perform. You look at the Busch Series and see how many Cup drivers race there. It's tough. I think 17 or 18 cars raced the Busch race in Charlotte. I've run around Cup guys most of the time. I don't feel like it's going to be any different other than I'm going to be with an organization that's very strong and has some great equipment to go out and perform.
"My goal is by the end of the year to get a Busch Series win. We came close last year. I threw that away at Milwaukee. It's funny because we're putting forth a lot of effort to go to Milwaukee next week and try to win. I look back and I'm probably a little disappointed that I haven't been able to perform in the Busch Series like I wanted, but being with three different organizations and having some success is exciting. Look back at Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne or Tony Stewart when we ran Busch and a lot of guys haven't had success. It's something where I've felt the times I've been in the Cup car testing it's actually easier to drive than the Busch car. We'll see.
"I look at all three Ganassi drivers this year and the organization as a whole has been growing. In 2002 when we signed up they had a timetable on how they wanted to build the organization. They've been close to that. I've seen it grow, and I think they're on the edge of winning races. I think I'll be able to add to the organization and hopefully we can pull together and get a win."