Written by Lauren Perkins-Follow @perkylauren
January 15, 2014
A name change is just the latest in a slew of changes for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (formerly Earnhardt Ganassi Racing). The announcement made earlier this month is also a reflection of the internal changes being made by the company.
After several disappointing seasons with Juan Pablo Montoya behind the wheel of the No.42 car, a new driver was announced for the upcoming season. 21 year old Kyle Larson will be taking over in 2014 in his first full season in the Sprint Cup Series. Larson, who raced for Turner Scott Motorsports in the Nationwide Series during the 2013 season, is bringing a lot of expectations with him to his new team. He will continue to be sponsored by Target, which was the primary sponsor for Montoya as well. Chris Heroy is expected to continue as crew chief for the 42 team, as no change in that position has been announced. Heroy joined the team at the beginning of the 2012 season.
After a late-season win at Talladega and strong points-finish, Jamie McMurray will be back in the No.1 car for the 2014 season with a new crew chief in Keith Rodden, who was formerly with the No.5 Hendrick Motorsports team. Rodden worked alongside Kenny Francis with driver Kasey Kahne, and this will be his first role as crew chief. Former crew chief Kevin Manion will remain with the company in another capacity, as he has an additional year left in his contract. McDonald’s will continue to be the primary sponsor for McMurray, with a few additional sponsors filling in during the season.
Other notable changes for the newly-named team include the naming of Shaun Peet as the new pit coach for 2014. Peet, who started his NASCAR career with EGR, has worked with several teams over the years, most recently as the jack man for the No.15 of Clint Bowyer with MWR. He is replacing Brett Cummings who has been with the company for the last few years.
Chip Ganassi Racing has made it a point to hold onto their strongest assets (Jamie McMurray and the No.1 crew) while making drastic changes throughout the rest of the team, both in leadership and in team members. They are looking to build a new brand with a new and highly-touted rookie driver, and they are well on their way to doing just that. If Larson can breathe new life into the somewhat new image of the company, 2014 could be a turning point for Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR ventures.