By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Chip Ganassi Racing will shut down its No. 42 NASCAR Xfinity Series team that was scheduled to be driven full-time by Ross Chastain due to lack of sponsorship funding, the team announced Friday.
“Due to a lack of sponsorship funding we will cease operation of the No. 42 Xfinity team in 2019,” said Ganassi in a press statement.
“This was a difficult decision for me to make and it comes with much anguish as this is a championship caliber team (having won six races and finished second in the owners championship) and more importantly because it affects a number of good people’s livelihoods. Running a car without proper funding is difficult to do.”
Ganassi becomes the second Xfinity team to cease operations in two days after Roush Fenway Racing shut down its two-car operation Thursday.
Considered by some to be a title contender, the move negatively affects Chastain’s future in NASCAR, but Ganassi’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series program won’t see any changes from either Kurt Busch’s No. 1 or Kyle Larson’s No. 42 teams.
The sudden announcement comes weeks after at least 20 agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided a home in Martinez, California registered to DC Solar co-founder and CEO Jeff and Paulette Carpoff on Dec. 20, 2018.
DC Solar was intended to be Chastain’s primary sponsor this season and continuing to be Larson’s Cup sponsor as well.
The Carpoff’s home wasn’t the only area that ended up raided by the FBI as DC Solar’s headquarters in Benicia Industrial Park was also raided.
The agency didn’t comment about the investigation other than it executed search warrants on the Martinez household.
However, the Martinez News-Gazette later reported that its headquarters has been closed two days before the raid. Its employees were escorted out and their personal belongings, such as vehicles and items, within the building were removed.
Carpoff’s lawyer Armando Gomez issued a statement to the News-Gazette that Carpoff’s family was surprised by the FBI’s actions as a court document found that Jeff filed a petition in U.S Tax Court in 2017 and has continued over the years with a trial date scheduled on Feb. 4, but it is currently unknown if the raid has anything to do with it.
“The Carpoff family was surprised and disappointed with the actions taken by the government earlier this week, which appear to relate to an ongoing tax dispute,” Gomez stated. “They are long-time residents and supporters of the Martinez community who believe in our country and all that it stands for.
“The Carpoffs are grateful for the support of their friends and family, and have trust in the system to resolve this matter in a fair and just manner at the earliest opportunity so that they can continue to grow their business, which brings clean, reliable, renewable power to first responders and others whenever and wherever needed. Until that time, they will have no further comment on this matter.”
In three races at Ganassi, Chastain scored his first Xfinity Series victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sept. 15, 2018, a race that Jeff’s company was the title sponsor and a driving force of helping the 26-year-old rising star secure a full-time ride.
Not only Ganassi is under the microscope, tracks such as Las Vegas, Darlington Raceway, ISM Raceway, and Richmond Raceway have ties with the solar-based company.
Furthermore, Charlotte-based agency Spire Sports + Entertainment has both DC Solar sponsored drivers under contract.
This isn’t Carpoff’s first incident as he was involved in a lawsuit in June 2018 when ex-Ganassi driver Brennan Poole sued his former team and Spire for conspiring DC Solar to no longer sponsoring him after three seasons from 2015-17.