Well, so much for that experiment

Posted by Iannucci | 7/01/2008 | 15 comments »
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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. On the one hand Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon are tearing up the IndyCar series. On the other hand...

Co-owner Chip Ganassi has shut down Dario Franchitti's race team because of a lack of sponsorship.

Longtime sponsor Coors Light left at the end of last season, and Ganassi was unable to secure funding for Franchitti.

Franchitti ranks 41st in the points standings.

"If I keep going I run the risk of dragging the other two teams down. I don't want to do that," Ganassi told the Associated Press. "There's no money. It makes no sense to be running this out of my pocket. I had to put a stop to it."

(MORE from FoxSports)
Diecast Dude asks simply "NOW Will You Please Go Back To IRL?", although the article notes Mr Judd will likely spend the rest of the year racing (ahem) in the Nationwide Series, a.k.a "N-Word Lights".

Poor Dario. Despite the adage to the contrary you can in fact be a good driver and yet not be able to drive everything.

(Thanks to mmack for the sending tip as well as giving the title of the post while your humble host is currently on a family vacation.)


  1. bbovenguy // July 01, 2008 7:14 PM  

    I never understood what either Franchitti or Ganassi were thinking when they came up with this crazy idea. I expected Franchitti to flounder around in the back of the pack, but I never thought things would turn out this bad.

    Maybe he and Bryan Herta can form their own ALMS team.

  2. John in Speedway // July 01, 2008 8:08 PM  

    He should have never left his bread and butter.

  3. The Dude // July 01, 2008 8:46 PM  

    Good, now Dario can come homoe, and team up with his buddy and form Franchitti KAnaan Racing, and all us former AGR fans Mikey has systematically alienated (Marco's DNFs, Danica's Danica-ness, firing Herta, etc.) can a have team to cheer for again. Ashely, you got the money, lets go racing!!1

  4. Dean // July 02, 2008 12:32 AM  

    That's very unfortunate for Dario. But you know, it was this exact sort of deal that brought Sarah Fisher and Anthony Foyt IV back to the IRL. We'll have to see what happens. I hope he comes back, but I was thinking from the start that this sort of thing was going to happen. It was only going to be a matter of time. I wish Dario the very best.

  5. SS Minnow // July 02, 2008 5:27 AM  

    In a funny way, I see this as a great positive for Indy Car. You have an internationally marketable guy in Dario (I use internationally kinda loose, but hey 2 countries count, right?) that can not get sponsorship money in the current market conditions PLUS is nothing more than a back marker at this point after winning an open-wheel championship. How many INDY guys/gals would want to take that same risk at this very moment? Probably not too many. The talented (can also be read marketable) drivers in the ICS hopefully will do their damnedest to secure some of these sponsors at a fraction of the price of what it takes to run n....r. We're a small group comparatively speaking, but there is some momentum building in the right direction to get this series back on the map. If I had the coin, I'd be hedging my bets with the growth of ICS over what n....r will be offering in a couple of years. Still sucks for Dario.

  6. Anonymous // July 02, 2008 5:49 AM  

    PLEASE come back Dario! I like "The Dude's" idea. I would totally support a team of Kanaan, Franchitti and Herta!

  7. mmack // July 02, 2008 7:15 AM  

    I never understood what either Franchitti or Ganassi were thinking when they came up with this crazy idea.

    IF the rumors can be believed, Ganassi was looking for sponsorship for the #40 car since longtime sponsor Coors Light was leaving to become "The Official Projectile to Heave at That Evil Kyle Busch" (you may have heard it termed The Official Beer) of NASCAR.

    According to the man himself, Dario was going to leave the IRL at the end of 2007 anyway. It was believed at the time he was going to the AGR ALMS team. Then came Sonoma and Marco Andretti. Dario, in a perfect example of "act in haste, repent in leasure" went to TCGR to race the tin-tops.

    Now, the rumor part was that Dario was bringing major $$$$$$$$$ with him from Jim Beam. That rumor was squashed, since Jim Beam was with Robby Gordon. So The Chipster figured he could trade on Dario's visibility as an Indy 500 winner to get sponsorship.

    A good theory, but in practice . . . . . .

    Which leads me to believe all the rumors and noise we've heard about Well-done staying in the IRL were due to The Chipster sitting Choppers down and saying "Dan, remember when I said I'd have a car for NASCAR for you, well, it's a funny thing but . . . . . ."

    Now, as to Dario coming back to the IRL, it's a little tricky since a) stories came out in the press about Mrs. Judd wanting him to leave open wheel racing after his two flips last summer, b) I haven't seen anything that says he's been released from his contract at TCGR. If that's the case, then I see either Nationwide, or Grand Am, where Chip has a team. Of course, that team has regular drivers in Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, so would there be room at the inn?

    It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

  8. mmack // July 02, 2008 7:18 AM  

    And by the way Jeff,

    Who gave you permission to take vacation during the middle of a very busy racing season?!?


  9. Anonymous // July 02, 2008 11:48 AM  

    This is what Felix Sabates had to say about some of Dario's options,

    "Chip pretty much told him if he wanted to go to back to Indy that, because it doesn't cost near as much money there as it does here, and over there Chip is the Rick Hendrick of over here - so he can get a sponsor for an IRL car very easily. So he's got his choice - if he wants to drive the Nationwide Car - get some more experience, maybe we'll get a sponsor for next year or go back to the IRL -- it's up to Dario - he has a contract and we intend to honor it."

  10. Jenna // July 02, 2008 1:22 PM  

    I feel bad for Dario. Regardless of what you thought of his decision to leave the IRL, none of us foresaw this happening.

  11. pressdog // July 02, 2008 1:30 PM  

    Probably not a reflection on Dario, more of a numbers deal. The $20 million for a team didn't pencil out for a lot of people. I read something on ESPN wherein the author was AGHAST
    that three teams are dominating N-word so far and how HORRID that is for the league. HFS. Really? Three teams dominating is bad for a league? SERIOUSLY? Huh. Ya think?

  12. Demond Sanders // July 02, 2008 3:25 PM  

    I'm not surprised at Dario's results on the track. That part of the equation was fairly predictable.

    What I am surprised about is the fact that no one stepped up to sponsor the team. Dario seems like he'd be pretty marketable.

    Hopefully this means NASCAR is slowly losing some of its big gains from the last 15 years.

  13. John in Speedway // July 02, 2008 6:34 PM  

    The IRL is heading in the right direction. Vision and RLR in particular are making great strides, and if a few breaks would have gone their way, one or both could have a victory. Now that we are hitting the right turn heavy section of the schedule, look for a team outside of the big 3 to win one of these races. I think Helio will win at the Glen, but there will be 1 transition driver on the podium. I think Wilson or Power will win a race before the season's over. Most likley Detroit or Mid-Ohio. Nonetheless, I think Ashley gets too nervous watching Dario in IndyCars. However, he was never injured in any of those crashes. He gets in a taxi, and bones are broken.

  14. Anonymous // July 02, 2008 10:14 PM  

    WHY does Floyd Ganassi waste his time & $$ on NASCRAP ???

    Floyd, sell your NECKCAR team to Felix Sabates.

    Floyd, get Target to run IndyCar ads and in store promotions.

  15. Anonymous // July 03, 2008 9:50 PM  

    He wanted it ... he got it. I wonder if we could say "Well, the driver of the #40 is a danger to everyone on the track & he's 10 mph slower than the last place car and they need to remove him" like Ashley Judd said about Duno at the end of last year. Ya got to admit it....Ashley deserved that one! It's fun to be a backmarker isn't it snoot.