By David Morgan, Associate Editor
For 20 years, Chip Ganassi has been a mainstay in the NASCAR Cup Series, but after the 2021 season comes to a close, his NASCAR operation will be no more after Wednesday’s announcement that the team has been sold, with upstart team Trackhouse Racing acquiring all of the team’s assets.
As a part of the acquisition, Trackhouse will gain control of Ganassi’s two charters for 2022, which will allow the team to move to a two-car operation. The team’s current driver, Daniel Suarez, will remain with the team next season, with the second entry filled by a yet to be named driver.
“This is a landmark moment for Trackhouse Racing,” said Trackhouse owner Justin Marks. “It is humbling to know we have secured our position in NASCAR for the next decade. These are never decisions made without a lot of thorough consideration and deep reflection by both parties. This process took several weeks and I want to thank Chip for being so open and candid with me every step of the journey.
“Chip has built an iconic motorsports empire and the Ganassi brand is globally recognized as a winner in the auto racing industry. It is truly an honor that we can build from that foundation. This acquisition provides Trackhouse a platform for years to come, enabling us to field multiple teams, elevate our on-track performance, deliver great value for our sponsors and partners, build lasting community impact programs and continue to grow our brand beyond the sports conversation.”
After the deal was announced at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Ganassi explained that he wasn’t necessarily looking to sell, but Marks made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“I must say our team was not for sale,” Ganassi said. “Justin simply came to me with a great offer and even a better vision for racing.
“There’s a lot of new blood in NASCAR, as you’ve heard or read of recent, people like Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, the Spire people, Kaulig Racing, a lot of new blood, and they all seem to be bringing a new perspective, and more importantly a new vision.
“The sport I think needs people with vision, and today NASCAR continues to build on its successes and by most accounts continues to grow.
“If I was trying to sell my team, I would have talked to everybody that was looking for a charter or looking for a team or looking to get involved in the sport. I did not. I talked to one person, and that’s this guy right here. I didn’t talk to anybody else.”
Though Ganassi won’t be in NASCAR after the checkered flag flies at Phoenix in November, he was quick to note that he isn’t leaving motorsports altogether, but is shifting his focus to his championship winning NTT IndyCar Series team, as well as his other interests in IMSA and other series.
“I want you to know I’m still dedicated to motorsports and the sport of auto racing,” Ganassi added. “In my opinion it’s the greatest sport in the world, and it still seems to be on an upward trajectory.
“We will still be involved ‑‑ I’m not getting out of racing. I still have three other teams in the INDYCAR series, IMSA, sports cars and Extreme E. So, our days by no means are getting out of racing.”
Marks said that the decision to buy Ganassi’s operation wasn’t something that came up out of the blue, as he already had a connection to Ganassi, driving a number of NASCAR Xfinity Series races for the team from 2016 to 2018, including his first and only win in the series at Mid-Ohio in 2016.
Despite the previous connection, he added that it took some time to work up the courage to pick up the phone and call Ganassi to get the ball rolling on what could be a monumental decision for his team.
“I thought about it for a few weeks before I worked up the courage to just do it,” Marks said. “I mean, I think sometimes I think there’s a lesson here, and sometimes you’ve just got to make the call. That’s what I did. I called him and I said, look, I’m in the process right now or at a point right now where I’m trying to identify opportunities to grow in this space and to create a great future for Trackhouse, and I just asked, that includes charters, that includes a potential acquisition of an entire operation, and if that’s a conversation you’d be interested in having, then I’ll come to Pittsburgh and we’ll have an adult conversation about it.
“We’ve known each other for some time now, and obviously I raced for them, and we have a great relationship. We always got along. I said, if you’re willing to talk, I’ll fly up there and we’ll sit in your office and talk, and he was very willing to do that. I think maybe he didn’t know how serious it was, but I was going to come to him and he was interested in learning. We had a great conversation that day and started the process.”
With the sale, the future is up in the air for the two drivers that currently drive for Ganassi, Kurt Busch and Ross Chastain, but Marks noted that both would be under consideration to remain with the team and fill its second entry for the 2022 season.
“We have to obviously go through that process and have that conversation, but at the onset those two are the top two that would be under consideration,” Marks said. “Like I said, it’s not just drivers, the fact that there’s a lot of great people there, and we want to try to retain as much of that talent as we can moving into the Next‑Gen era. I think when it comes to the discussion of drivers that’s certainly where we’re going to start is with those two.”