Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced its 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver lineup today at Watkins Glen. Casey Mears, Jamie McMurray, David Streeme and newcomer Reed Sorenson will pilot the Ganassi Dodge Chargers next season. Mears will...
Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced its 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver lineup today at Watkins Glen. Casey Mears, Jamie McMurray, David Streeme and newcomer Reed Sorenson will pilot the Ganassi Dodge Chargers next season.
Mears will move to the Home 123 Dodge Charger. Sorenson will move up from the Busch Series and drive the Target Dodge, while McMurray will continue to drive the Texaco/Havoline Dodge and Stremme will drive the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Charger.
"I'm excited about Home 123. They're an industry leader and we're looking forward to expanding their involvement with us. We're also fortunate to have a guy like Casey in their car. As a lot of you know, I'm a big fan of Casey's and we think he's one of the fastest guys out there. As he said, his first three years in Cup have been a little bit up and down. I'd like to think they've mostly been up though. I was certainly pleased with his performance last weekend at Indianapolis. I think he passed about 65 cars there, a lot of them two or three times. We're as committed as ever with surrounding him with quality people for his team and certainly the Home 123 team. We're proud to do a multi-year deal with an industry-leader like themselves. It's important to understand that teams today, certainly a lot of media of late about teams and their size and interest and how they look going forward and how they look back. I hope today's announcement will clear up a lot of things for the media.
"Reed will be driving the Target Dodge next season in the Nextel Cup Series, and we also think Reed is a racing talent. It's been a pleasure to watch him develop and grow off the track. All of today's happenings with Home 123, Casey and Reed could not be done without the help of Target. Target continues to redefine the word partnership and their support the last few years has certainly been part of Reed's development and other people in our development series. I want to take a particular moment to point out Lorin Ranier. Lorin has spearheaded our driver development program, and today you're seeing the culmination of that. We're looking forward to what the future holds for Reed.
"Sterling Marlin is not here this morning, and his father is not doing too well. He flew out of here last night to go back home to be with Coo Coo. (David Stremme will practice the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge on Friday). None of this could happen today without the steadfast support of Sterling Marlin since I got in partners with Felix. A lot needs to be said there about that man.
"My last announcement, with four drivers under 30 years old, we're checking a rumor right now that NASCAR Nation is going to be moved over to MTV next year. There's no truth to that, but I did hear that rumor.
"I talked about Lorin Ranier a little bit earlier. There's a guy that I can't tell you the tremendous amount of work Lorin has done for our organization since 2001. I'm pretty proud to have him as part of my team. I'll go back to when Andy (Graves) introduced me to Lorin. When he was introduced to me I said, 'what does he do?' Andy couldn't really give me a straight answer about what Lorin does. He does a little bit of this and a little bit of that. After meeting Lorin and spending about an hour with him he thinks just like an owner. He probably got that from his father (former Cup owner Harry Ranier). In fact, I'm sure he got that from his father. A big thank you there for the training program there that I didn't have to go through with Lorin and kudos to his father for doing that. What you see up here today is from a lot of work from a guy who sits around and watches races on TV a lot and takes notes and tells me about them. He certainly helps me in a manner around our race team that nobody else can, and I want to say a special thanks to him.
"We have a first-rate team. We have world-class sponsors and talented drivers. I think we've got the best team of people in the business that are under our roof. We're bringing together our engine program in our facility next year and most importantly I can't say enough about the great people we have throughout the organization. I know a lot of people in the media look for the results week in and week out, and I can tell you they're a lot of victories on this team that maybe don't show up in the results. For that, I'm very bullish about our future and very bullish about this series and where this team is going."
WHY GO TO FOUR DRIVERS? "Obviously I don't have to speak to a youth movement. Everybody has been all over that for a couple of years. We're just in a position where the opportunity is there to do that and with the opportunity there, you'd hate to pass it up like that when you've got good drivers. You don't want to let them go. You want to grow your team. Testing helps. There is some cookie cutter ability when you have multi cars. A lot of things work from car to car. A lot of things don't work from car to car. There is that element to it."
HOW DETERMINED ARE YOU TO KEEP JAMIE? "It was kind of an interesting week. I think some other people know how I feel now. Again, it's something that's not on our radar screen. His status has always been the same. That's what he and I spoke of and that's all we've ever spoke of. I think that's something that's cranked up among your brothering (media)."
IF HE (McMURRAY) ISN'T HAPPY WHY NOT LET HIM GO? "I'm not happy about a lot of things either, but I don't leave. Every time I get unhappy do I leave? No."
IF THE TALENT POOL HAD BEEN BETTER WOULD IT HAVE BEEN A LITTLE DIFFERENT? "In a lot of sports there is a dilution of talent. People think in major league baseball there are too many teams. With the explosive growth of motorsports I'd have to agree there's a dilution of talent out there across the board in all series. As much as we love racing, I don't know that the world needs more series. It needs fewer series so we can have more better drivers."
WHY ARE WE SEEING EXPLOSION OF FREE AGENCY? "It's a year and a half down the line and someday it'll be two years down the line. I know that Mr. Penske is a quick study. Far be it for me to say what they, and I assume you're speaking about NASCAR, need to do. I'm happy with what they're doing. I'm happy with how they run things. I've been through that thing with sanctioning bodies and they do the best job of anybody."
WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU HEARD ABOUT THE KURT BUSCH TRADE? "I have to admit that I had a bit of a snicker run across my face."
WHAT HAS IT DONE TO THE SPORT WITH A GUY SIGNING A CONTRACT A YEAR AHEAD OF TIME? "I don't think it's affected the sport at all. It seems to be affecting the media a lot more. I don't see it as as big of a story as you guys do."
WHAT WILL YOU DO CREW WISE WITH FOUR TEAMS? "We certainly have the crew chiefs in our building and when they shake out we haven't decided yet, but everybody is there and everybody is going to be there."
COMMENT ON FOUR DRIVERS YOUNGER THAN 30 "It's exciting to have young guys. They bring something new to the track every day. Some things you like, some things you don't. They certainly keep you on your toes, and there's a lot to be said for that. I like that excitement."
DO YOU SEE STRUCTURE OF CONTRACTS CHANGING? "It's interesting. I saw the other day where John Madden is going from Monday night football to NBC in 2007. Does that mean people in 2006 aren't going to listen to him or what he says doesn't mean anything? That's not true at all. You guys always use the term lame duck. I don't know what a lame duck guy is. Does that mean if he comes across the finish line and they say he's a lame duck does that mean he can't win today? Nobody says that. I don't really understand that. No one talks about John Madden. When are you guys going to start talking about him?"
WHY ADD A CAR? "Because I've got a lot of good people on my team. Whether it's drivers or people under the roof I've got some great people and I want to keep them gainfully employed."
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT CASEY MEARS? "What I like about him is what you saw last week in Indianapolis. He got up in the dirt and did a little flat tracking. He passed about 60 cars, and I thought that was pretty impressive. I just like the guy. I like his attitude. He's low maintenance. He's fast."
"I'm excited to be a part of the Home 123 family for their first full season in Nextel Cup. I'm excited about the whole program. We're stepping up to a four-car program with Reed and Stremme stepping up as new teammates and working again with Jamie McMurray. I don't think you could ask for a better team. I've had opportunities to work with Stremme and Reed off and on. I worked with Jamie all last year. We all share information very well. I think it's going to be a great team environment, and I think we'll be able to help each other out. I'm very excited about the whole deal. I want to thank Chip and Felix for building another car for me this coming season. It's been a long three years, and obviously I feel very fortunate to be a part of the Chip Ganassi organization. Chip and Felix have been standing behind me for the last three years. We're going into another full season of racing next year, and I couldn't be more excited about it. I'm looking forward to 2006.
"I'd like to thank Chip and Felix for giving me this opportunity. It's a lifelong dream I've had. I think every kid growing up is dreaming to get to the NASCAR level, and I'm just going to do the best job I can and try to make the most of it. I want to thank Lorin for giving me and David an opportunity to be a part of this organization. Hopefully we'll make him feel like he made a good decision. As far as my teammates go I feel like these three guys up here are the three best teammates anyone could have. David has been a good friend to me this year, and we've been working together well in the Busch Series. Casey has been helping me and so has Jamie. They're going to be able to help me Dodge some problems next year and make that transition to the Nextel Cup level. I'm excited to represent my sponsors, Target and Discount Tire, next year. I'm looking forward to be able to be very competitive in both series, and I can't wait to see what we can do."