Bob Pockrass of The Sporting News has confirmed that the legendary Earnhardt name has been dropped by Chip Ganassi’s Sprint Cup operation – which has now reverted to the “Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates” name after a five-year run as Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.
EGR was forged going into the 2009 season after the merger of Ganassi’s team and the former Dale Earnhardt Inc. squad, two teams that were struggling at the time to find sponsorship to fund their respective groups.
The combined team has primarily carried on as a two-car operation in Sprint Cup, and will maintain that this year with veteran Jamie McMurray and Cup rookie Kyle Larson.
“It’s been an honor to have the Earnhardt name affiliated with our team,” CGR president Steve Lauletta said Wednesday according to Pockrass. “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.”
During the combined team’s tenure as EGR, it won the 2010 Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, both with McMurray at the wheel. However, it also endured a winless drought that lasted for three seasons until McMurray won this past fall at Talladega Superspeedway under caution.
Day-to-day operations of the No. 1 and No. 42 programs are expected to keep going along normally as Teresa Earnhardt, widow of seven-time Cup champ Dale Earnhardt Sr., has had little influence on that front. In addition, Lauletta told Pockrass that CGR would continue to maintain a business relationship with the DEI companies.
However, considering how much the Earnhardt name means to NASCAR fans, we can probably figure some of them won’t be happy with this decision – even if it shouldn’t really affect the team all that much.