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.
Two races remain in the 2019 Supercross season and the handwriting is on the wall. Cooper Webb’s magic number is now five; all he needs to do in the final two races is finish fifth or better. Since he has finished worse than that only twice this year – and not since Week 5 in San Diego – it’s a fair assumption that he will keep his momentum alive through the end of the season.
Webb’s competition is not going to let up, however. Last week in Denver, Eli Tomac won his second consecutive race after Webb got off to a slow start. There was a glimmer of hope while Webb was outside the top five on Lap 1, but the points leader meticulously picked off the competition and settled into second. Third in the standings, Marvin Musquin finished third to keep his title hopes alive as well.
But this is Supercross. Anything can happen. Just two weeks ago in the 250 class, Austin Forkner tweaked a knee and failed to start the Feature in Nashville. His one-race cushion evaporated in an instant and his advantage over the field is only three points with two races remaining in that division.
Two weeks ago at Nashville, Tyler Enticknap and Ronnie Stewart crashed hard and will be missing from the New Jersey lineup.
In 250s, it took an injury for the field to catch up to Forkner. He’ll be back in competition this week and forced to answer the question of whether he is in full form after undergoing therapy on his knee for the past three weeks. Since none of the 250 East riders have beaten him on the track, the answer would seem to be a simple one.
But now the competition senses weakness which is likely to be compounded by Forkner’s propensity to struggle in practice and qualification. Chase Sexton and Justin Cooper have been racking up top-fives, but now they need to step up and win. If either rider can do that this week in New Jersey or next week in the East/West Showdown in Vegas, that should allow him to snatch the championship away from 2019’s dominator.