After two decades, Chip Ganassi Racing‘s participation in the NASCAR Cup Series will come to an end. On Wednesday, Trackhouse Racing Team announced it had purchased all assets and both charters from CGR, which the team will begin using in 2022. One of the charters will go to the #99 of Daniel Suárez, while the fates of CGR’s drivers Kurt Busch and Ross Chastain are not known.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though Ganassi noted the team was not for sale and that Marks provided “a great offer and an even better vision.” Marks raced for Ganassi in the Xfinity Series as a road course ringer from 2016 to 2018, and won his lone NASCAR national series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2016.
“This is a landmark moment for Trackhouse Racing,” said Marks. “It is humbling to know we have secured our position in NASCAR for the next decade. These are never decisions made without a lot of thorough consideration and deep reflection by both parties. This process took several weeks and I want to thank Chip for being so open and candid with me every step of the journey. Chip has built an iconic motorsports empire and the Ganassi brand is globally recognized as a winner in the auto racing industry. It is truly an honour that we can build from that foundation.
“This acquisition provides Trackhouse a platform for years to come, enabling us to field multiple teams, elevate our on-track performance, deliver great value for our sponsors and partners, build lasting community impact programs and continue to grow our brand beyond the sports conversation.”
The news came with great shock to the NASCAR world. Although CGR has never won a driver’s championship, Ganassi has long maintained a presence across numerous major motorsport including the NTT IndyCar Series, IMSA, and Extreme E, all of which he will continue beyond 2021.
Ganassi entered the NASCAR world in 2001 after buying a stake in Felix Sabates‘ Team SABCO. Eight years later, the team became Earnhardt Ganassi Racing after a merger with Dale Earnhardt, Inc., which added the #1 currently driven by Busch to the stable, before the Earnhardt name was dropped in 2014. Rob Kauffman, who helped scheme the charter system as chairman of the Race Team Alliance, became a minority owner the following year while Sabates retired at the end of 2020. The team has won twenty-six Cup races with the most recent by Busch at Las Vegas in 2020. CGR also raced in the Xfinity Series until 2019.
Owned by Marks and recording artist Pitbull, Trackhouse débuted in 2021 with Suárez as driver. One of three new full-time Cup organisations, the Richard Childress Racing-supported Chevrolet team has seen solid results with a trio of top ten finishes, a best finish of fourth at Bristol Dirt, and Suárez fighting for a playoff spot as he sits eighteenth in points.
However, the team lost its charter for 2022 when Spire Motorsports—who holds the charter’s rights and leases it to Trackhouse—opted to sell it to Kaulig Racing. The acquisition of CGR puts any concerns about the charter situation to rest, and Marks has been open about his plans for his team including establishing a shop in Nashville and a two-car operation. While it is unknown which CGR driver, if any, joins Suárez at Trackhouse, Busch has been reported as a candidate to drive a second car at fellow new team 23XI Racing. Chastain is currently in his first—and only, with Wednesday’s announcement—season as a CGR Cup driver.
“I think this is a great day for NASCAR as it seems like there are so many people that are wanting to get into the sport as owners—Michael Jordan, Pitbull, Denny (Hamlin, 23XI co-owner with Jordan) and plenty of others,” commented Ganassi. “They are bringing new perspective, vision and insight which is great for the sport. NASCAR has been building momentum over the last few years and I am confident that it will continue to do so.
“[…] As everyone knows, I care deeply for my employees so selling to someone like Justin, who is part of the CGR family, made the reality of selling much easier. He knows our organisation and the people. That gives me comfort. Everyone needs to know that I am still completely dedicated to the motorsports industry and will continue to run my other teams in IndyCar, IMSA and Extreme E with the same enthusiasm that I always have.”