Ganassi tabs Matt McCall as new crew chief for Jamie McMurray

1 Comment

Two days after the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team and driver Ryan Newman finished one spot shy of winning the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title, Newman’s lead engineer has found a new home.

Matt McCall has been hired by Chip Ganassi Racing to serve as crew chief for its No. 1 team and driver Jamie McMurray next season.

“I am very excited to join the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team,” McCall said in a team release. “This organization is one that everyone in the garage has taken notice of in 2014 and I am just looking forward to the opportunity to make them even better.

“We have a group of very talented people building and driving the race cars here and I can’t wait to get started.”

McCall, a former driver in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series as well as a former champion in the World Karting Association dirt series, will assume his role with CGR effective immediately.

“We are very pleased to add a crew chief like Matt to what we feel is a team and program that is certainly on the rise and feel that he can take it to the next level,” team owner Chip Ganassi said.

“Matt brings a lot to the table that we are thrilled to have. He has been a successful race engineer for the No. 31 team and has the added experience of being a driver, which we feel will add to his success in leading the No. 1 team. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that will mesh very well with Jamie and the whole team. We couldn’t be happier.”

As for now-former No. 1 crew chief Keith Rodden, it is believed that he is on his way back to Hendrick Motorsports. Prior to joining CGR, Rodden was lead engineer on Hendrick’s No. 5 team for Kasey Kahne.

CGR took a noticeable step forward in performance this past season, and it will be up to McCall to help continue that trend. However, McMurray himself had mixed fortunes.

He won the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race in May at Charlotte and improved over his 2013 results in both Top-5 (seven) and Top-10 finishes (13). But he also failed to make the Chase and slid back in the points standings from 15th in 2013 to 18th in 2014.

McMurray is optimistic that with McCall on his team, better results are on the way.

“I am really looking forward to 2015 and beginning to work with Matt,” said McMurray. “As a team, I think we will carry a lot of momentum into Daytona and the hiring of Matt will continue to move the program forward.”

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
Leave a comment

As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”