By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Chip Ganassi Racing is on the upswing and shows no signs of slowing down.
For the second year in a row, the team made the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with both Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray. The team was a threat to win the championship until a blown motor for Larson and a series of events took both drivers out of contention in the second round of the Playoffs.
Ganassi’s drivers accounted for 30 top-five and 64 top-10s in the past two seasons. This is up from 21 top-fives and 50 top-10s since Larson moved to NASCAR’s Premier Series in 2014. The organization also won five races in the past two years, all by Larson.
“That didn’t happen overnight,” McMurray admitted. “It was a building process to get to that point. This is a big year because it’s a different body, which is huge in our sport. I think the silver lining in that is that they think they know why we were successful, which is so important because a lot of times in racing you don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s not a known but things just kind of worked out. Our sport has come so far that everything is scientific now and everything is ‘a-b-a’ tested so you know why it worked or maybe why it didn’t work. So, I think this year will be good because of the little bit of testing we’ve done so far.”
The team also sat on top of the points standings for multiple weeks throughout the season. Previously, the last time a Ganassi-owned team lead the points was 2002 and Sterling Marlin was the driver of their No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid. That same year, McMurray was a developmental driver in the then-Busch Series (now Xfinity). An accident at Kansas Speedway late in the season left Marlin with a neck-injury, ending his, and Ganassi’s Championship run.
McMurray doesn’t believe that anyone is thinking about the fact that Ganassi hasn’t earned a NASCAR title yet,
“No, I don’t think so. Chip has been so successful in sports cars (IMSA) and IndyCar. This is just a different sport. When I first came here in 2002, they could have won a championship that year. Same thing with last year, there could have been a championship last year. He’s been close in a lot of those aspects, but when you look back, it’s the same guy or the same team winning all of those in between. There’s so many variables that play into that, that no one is thinking that.”
Now McMurray, Larson, and the entire Chip Ganassi Racing team will look to start the 2018 season on a high note at Daytona International Speedway.