January 9, 2014 — report from Bob Pockrass, Sporting News — AP photo — INDIANAPOLIS, IN — When Sprint Cup testing begins Thursday morning at Daytona International Speedway, there will be one well-known NASCAR name missing among the list of team owners.
The No. 1 and No. 42 Sprint Cup teams, which were run the last five years under the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates banner, will now return to their former name: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The sign outside the North Carolina shop already has been changed, and stickers on the cars and patches on the driver and crew uniforms will carry the Chip Ganassi logo instead of the EGR logo.
Ganassi officials confirmed the change Wednesday but had no comment on the financial structure of the current organization, which fields Sprint Cup cars for Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson. Teresa Earnhardt, widow of seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt and owner of Dale Earnhardt Inc., has not been involved in the day-to-day operations of the team and with the change apparently no longer has any financial stake in the NASCAR operation.
EGR was formed in December 2008 when Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing entered into a partnership, helping facilitate Ganassi’s move from Dodge to Chevrolet and allowing the use of Earnhardt Childress Racing engines. It also moved the No. 1 team from the DEI shop to the Ganassi shop. The Ganassi team has been primarily a two-car team since (Aric Almirola ran a handful of races in a third car in 2009), with EGR having access to the Earnhardt Technologies Group, which houses engineering tools and manufacturers various parts and pieces for racecars out of the former DEI shop.
“It’s been an honor to have the Earnhardt name affiliated with our team,” Chip Ganassi Racing President Steve Lauletta said Wednesday afternoon. “Dale and Teresa have done a tremendous amount for the sport. She was visionary enough with us to do this partnership in the first place. We felt like it was a benefit. … The goal of becoming a better race team partnered together, we think we did that.
“That’s a tribute to her wanting to do the right thing for her partners, her company and her employees. We have nothing but good things to say about the partnership.”
EGR was technically a separate company from Chip Ganassi Racing, with DEI and Chip Ganassi Racing listed as the EGR principal managers, according to its 2013 annual report filed with the State of North Carolina. The operations of the Cup teams will no longer be run by the EGR company but instead by the Chip Ganassi company.
“We’ll continue to do business with those (DEI) companies,” Lauletta said. “The relationship with Teresa and DEI was a benefit to the organization and we certainly want to continue to be affiliated with them. But for our partners and for the way we operate the organization, we’re changing the brand to Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.”
There will be no change in the operation of the Ganassi teams, as Teresa Earnhardt has had little influence on the organization’s day-to-day operations. Ganassi began using Hendrick Motorsports engines in 2013 in its two Cup cars.
“There is not a daily role (for her) of the management in the two-car Sprint Cup organization,” Lauletta said. “We’ve been operating this way pretty much since Day 1 of the partnership. We still operate the same way we have for the last five years.”