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Ganassi Gets the Trifecta
July 26, 2010 - Al Stephenson
I'm not necessarily a Chip Ganassi fan. I had a problem with him a few years back, but it was kind of cool to see him hit the trifecta yesterday. When Jamie McMurray crossed the finish line ahead of the field at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it gave car owner Ganassi a sweep of the Daytona 500, the Indy 500 (with Dario Franchitti) and the Brickyard 400.
Everyone thought he had a good chance at the rare feat, though they assumed Juan Pablo Montoya would be the driver to win Sunday. Montoya led the most laps and dominated the race for the second year in a row, but a flawed tire strategy with 20 laps to go doomed his chances. McMurray as well as five others took just two tires while Montoya opted for four and the subsequent track position combined with running in dirty air led to the 42 car wrecking. A speeding penalty last year led to not winning and Montoya, a former Indy 500 champion has nothing to show for having the best car two years running.
McMurray however jumped into the lead on the restart following Montoya's crash and added the Brickyard 400 trophy to his season opening Daytona 500 win. You have to feel good for McMurray, one of the good guys in Nascar, but I'm still a little peeved at Ganassi.
For years my favorite Nascar driver was Sterling Marlin. When Ganassi joined forces with Felix Sabates, he inherited Sterling as his top driver. Marlin gave Ganassi a stout driver as he led the points for much of the season before a broken vertebrae in his neck sidelined him for the rest of the season
When Marlin's contract expired, Ganassi was pressured by the car's sponsor to go with a younger driver. The Coors Brewing Company wanted to target a younger age group. Marlin was in his 50's and Coors thought only younger people drinked beer. David Stremme was brought in and I stopped drinking Coors Light, which I guess made them partially right.
When Bass Pro Shops balked at sponsoring McMurray this season, Ganassi went to bat for him. Not your typical fisherman/hunter like Martin Truex, Jr. was, but a good guy Ganassi argued. He is also a pretty good race car driver as his two wins show. I just wish Ganassi had fought to keep Sterling in the seat for a couple more years.
The view from my seat suggests that this trifecta for the car owner is not likely to be done again anytime soon and I congratulate (somewhat begrudgingly) Chip Ganassi.
One word of caution though. Beware of Roger Penske!
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