Team Preview: Ganassi

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates has historically been a strong contender in open wheel and sports car racing. Now the team is hoping to capitalize on that success for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series by combining the talents of two open wheel standouts and a young up-and-comer to drive for its three-car team.

The team experimented a little bit last year by hiring Formula One star and 1999 CART Champion Juan Pablo Montoya to drive its No. 42 entry. The gamble paid off as the Columbian won the Cup event at Infineon Raceway in the COT, giving CGRFS its sixth Cup win and first since 2002.

The stock-car rookie captured rookie-of-the-year honors on the strength of three top fives, six top 10s and a 20th ranking in the final points. His final points ranking was the best result yet for the No. 42 team.

Ganassi will again gamble in 2008 as reigning IndyCar Champion and 2007 Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti assumes the driving duties for the team's No. 40 Dodge. David Stremme drove the car for CGR in 2007 and posted three top-10 finishes.

"Any time you can sign a driver of Dario's caliber you have to be thrilled," Chip Ganassi said. "Dario is a world-class driver. He is a proven winner, an Indianapolis 500 champion and an accomplished individual that will be a super teammate to both Juan Pablo and Reed (Sorenson)."

In October of last year, Ganassi signed Franchitti to a multi-year agreement with the organization. He is the first European driver in the 59-year history of NASCAR to join the series full time.

"It has never mattered to me a whole lot about where my drivers are from," Ganassi said in regards to the international flare he's brought into his racing teams. "We have one from the West coast, one from the mid-West and one from the East coast. We have a Colombian, a New Zealander, a Scot, a Mexican and two Brits but they were all brought here for only one reason and that was to WIN – pure and simple."

Franchitti will try to bring CGR its second consecutive and career NASCAR Cup rookie-of-the-year title.

The third driver for the team, Reed Sorenson, in the No. 41 Target Dodge Charger, is looking to again improve his Cup performance. Entering his third year of Cup competition, the 22-year-old comes off a career-best 22nd points ranking in a season where he won his first career pole position in Indianapolis.

Sorenson became the youngest driver to start on the pole in IMS history. He and Montoya shared the front row in that race, which saw Montoya finish in second.

With these three drivers, CGRFS should be able to meet its goal of winning again in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2008.

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