MCMURRAY, GANASSI SHINE ON CENTER STAGE

There was a big race, big money, and a big trophy. Chip Ganassi is an even money bet.

Set those up in the NASCAR world and Jamie McMurray is your man. Oh by the way he drives for Chip Ganassi.

Felix Sabates and Dale Earnhardt originally owned the teams that now provide the machine that McMurray steered to victory in Sunday’s Brickyard 400. Sabates sold majority ownership to Ganassi. Then that organization merged with the DEI assets and Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing is what still stands. And 2010 has been a banner year when the Cup Series’ crown jewel events are up for grabs.


In February McMurray was victorious in the Daytona 500. Car owner Ganassi entered Victory Lane in NASCAR’s biggest race and posed with the owner’s trophy. In May, Dario Franchitti won the Indianapolis 500. This is a separate branch of the Ganassi motorsports arm and it allowed him to beam while posing with the highly coveted Borg Warner Trophy. Then last Sunday Ganassi performed an Indy sweep with McMurray’s win.

This gives McMurray wins in NASCAR’s two biggest races in the same year. Ganassi shared that as an owner and tacked on the Indy 500 within the six-month period. “I feel very honored to get to be a part of that accomplishment” said McMurray.

For the second year in a row another Earnhardt-Ganassi driven car of Juan Pablo Montoya had the dominant car in the Brickyard 400. A pit road speeding penalty took Montoya out of contention in the later stages of the 2009 race. In 2010 a late 4-tire change pit decision cost Montoya track position and put him back in traffic. With his car not driving well out of the clean air, he slid into the fourth turn wall and collected Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Montoya drove straight to the garage with the damaged machine.

The NASCAR duo of Ganassi and McMurray came extremely close to winning at Charlotte’s 600 on the evening of Franchitti’s Indianapolis drive. McMurray trailed only Kurt Busch when the checkered flag was unfurled Sunday night of Memorial Day weekend.

The huge motorsports wins brought varied emotion from the men involved. McMurray was nearly brought to tears when he tried to give his first television interview after climbing from the winning Daytona 500 machine. At the Indianapolis 500 Ganassi had trouble describing what his teams had just accomplished. Readily admitting the Indy/Daytona double had not sunk in yet. Following the Brickyard, Ganassi gave credit to those around him and fell back on old-fashioned effort.

“You got to work hard at what you want to do. You got to work hard at it. It’s the only way I’ve figured out how to do it: work hard at it” said Ganassi.
There are men who drive, own teams, and work within the racing industry who strive their entire lives to reach just one goal conquered by Ganassi in 2010. His Indycar performance is unquestionably championship caliber. The NASCAR operation does not fall into the same title-winning scrutiny as Hendrick Motorsports or Richard Childress Racing, but it has to be viewed as a growing, improving powerhouse.

“I’m the luckiest guy on the planet,” said Ganassi.

(Patrick Reynolds is a former NASCAR team mechanic who hosts "Motorweek Live" Thursdays at 9pm ET. Listen at www.racersreunionradio.com)

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