Skip to content

Ganassi, Pruett excited for Ford future

Nov 7, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT

Indianapolis 500 - Practice Getty Images

Tuesday’s announcement – a long-awaited and anticipated confirmation that Chip Ganassi Racing’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship effort would switch from BMW to Ford Ecoboost engines – changes the game in the merged series before it’s even run its first race.

How, you ask? The Michael Shank Racing team was likely to be Ford’s flagship team, and it has had the longest history with the manufacturer in GRAND-AM Rolex Series history. Ganassi, though, brings the championship pedigree (five GRAND-AM titles, the last three with BMW) and consistent week-in, week-out threat to win that Shank’s team has often struggled to produce.

That’s no knock on Shank, but when you’re the scrappy, plucky underdog compared to the “Goliath” that is CGR, it’s always more of an uphill struggle to achieve the same results on a regular basis.

If nothing else, Ganassi has given himself a new nickname as a result of the partnership.

“You can call me ‘Mr. Detroit,’ I guess, with having both Ford and Chevrolet now,” Ganassi told me Tuesday at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

“For many years we’ve been in different series, with IndyCar, sports car and NASCAR, and we’ve been under three manufacturers for a long time. So now, we’re down to two manufacturers. It’s exciting and it’s really no different than a car dealer with more brands under his belt.”

Indeed it’s Ganassi who has spread his wings to have two of North America’s “Big Three” auto manufacturers at once. But while the decision to not bring everything under the Chevrolet umbrella may come as a surprise, Ganassi explained that the Ecoboost platform, a turbocharged V6 built more for efficiency, was a better fit for his sports car operation.

“I’ve been a proponent of ‘economy car,’ mileage, ‘going green,’ renewable, all these sort of buzzwords over the last 10 years,” he said. “Somewhere along the line we lost ‘performance.’ With Ecoboost, we’ll have economy, and performance. I’ve been preaching that you can have that in racing. It’s about using the least fuel as you can to get to the finish, right?”

Lead driver of one of the CGR Riley Ford Daytona Prototypes is Scott Pruett, himself a five-time Rolex DP champion and a five-time overall winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

For Pruett, the switch to Ford marks a homecoming and an anniversary. He’s also driven for the “blue oval” in IndyCar and NASCAR.

“The last time was when Doug Yates, interestingly, was building the engines on the ’32 Tide ride,'” Pruett said. “And it’s pretty interesting, I was telling the Ford guys this story. 30 years ago this month was my first opportunity to drive a big car, and it was a Ford: a front-engined Mustang GTP, ’83, Elkhart Lake, Wis.”

Pruett explained the challenges the DP teams are facing with such a condensed timeline between making this announcement and upgrading the car with the necessary performance and aero adjustments, before the team’s first scheduled test December 14-15 at Daytona. One of the few constants is staying in Continental Tires, which P2 teams need to adapt to.

“We’re getting the engine fit, components organized; it’s a lot of reorganization to move from a normally aspirated V8 to a turbocharged V6, and do all the other updates,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate (all the rule news) is coming now, because realistically this should have happened in June and July. That makes it more difficult for the teams, considering the reality that this largely falls on the Daytona Prototype guys, not the P2 guys.”

Ganassi confirmed two DPs will run at the Rolex 24 and continues to pursue the second full-season car there. The team adds a fourth IndyCar for Tony Kanaan in 2014, and remains constant with two Chevrolets in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Latest Posts
  1. NHRA: John Force rolls to No. 1 Funny Car qualifier in first race without former crew chief Jimmy Prock

    Nov 1, 2014, 12:23 AM EDT

    (AP Photo/NHRA, Marc Gewertz) AP

    In his first race without crew chief Jimmy Prock, defending Funny Car champ John Force didn’t appear worse for the wear, grabbing the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot in the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas.

  2. Kyle Busch roars back to win Truck race at Texas; Matt Crafton gets closer to clinching championship

    Oct 31, 2014, 11:45 PM EDT

    (Sean Gardner/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway) Getty Images

    Kyle Busch rallied from ninth place with five laps left in regulation time, then roared up through the pack and “set sail” to a green-white-checker victory in the Truck Series race Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway.

  3. NHRA: John Force to announce new sponsor Saturday, new manufacturer Tuesday

    Oct 31, 2014, 8:57 PM EDT

    (Jason Merritt/Getty Images) Getty Images

    16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force will make a major sponsorship announcement Saturday in Las Vegas, and is expected to follow that up Tuesday with what major auto manufacturer he’ll be aligned with in 2015.

  4. Matt Kenseth still remorseful over Martinsville wreck with Kevin Harvick (UPDATED)

    Oct 31, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT

    Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Kenseth says the only way he’d feel a little better about it is if Harvick manages to make the Championship Race.

  5. Tony Stewart sets fastest qualifying speed ever on 1.5-mile track (200.111 mph), but Matt Kenseth wins pole at Texas

    Oct 31, 2014, 8:17 PM EDT

    (FILE: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Matt Kenseth won the pole Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, but Tony Stewart lived up to his nickname and smoked the field with the fastest qualifying speed ever on a 1.5-mile track.

  6. United States GP Paddock Notebook – Friday

    Oct 31, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Sebastian Vettel AP

    Complete with news and analysis, here is all of the action from the COTA paddock on practice day for the United States Grand Prix.

  7. Rossi: American support will get me to F1 (VIDEO)

    Oct 31, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Russia - Practice Getty Images

    Speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton, America’s great F1 hopeful speaks about recent events at Marussia and his hopes for the future.

  8. Austin FP2: View from the ground

    Oct 31, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    COTAwide AP

    An on-the-ground perspective of the speed, sound and crowd from Austin second practice.

  9. Racing legend Dan Gurney earns one of rarest and most prestigious awards for lifetime achievements (video)

    Oct 31, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT

    (Courtesy The Henry Ford) (Courtesy The Henry Ford)

    Very few race car drivers deserve to be called “legendary.” Dan Gurney is most definitely one of those, and was honored this week with the Edison-Ford Medal for his incomparable lifetime achievements.

  10. Verstappen impressive once again in second F1 run-out

    Oct 31, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-F1-US-PRACTICE Getty Images

    17-year-old Toro Rosso driver continues to prove that age is simply a number in racing.

  11. Austin Dillon hasn’t forgotten how to wheel an NNS car, is fastest in final practice at Texas

    Oct 31, 2014, 6:10 PM EDT

    (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway) Getty Images

    Austin Dillon was the fastest driver in Friday’s final Nationwide Series practice at Texas Motor Speedway. The defending NNS champ who is now in his rookie season in Sprint Cup, Dillon is making his first NNS start this season in Saturday’s race.

  12. Kurt Busch is acting a little (candy) corny this Halloween (VIDEO)

    Oct 31, 2014, 5:45 PM EDT

    (Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The Outlaw attempts the “Candy Corn Challenge” – fitting 100 pieces inside his mouth.

  13. Alonso’s ambition continues to leave the Formula 1 paddock guessing

    Oct 31, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    Fernando Alonso AP

    Is there more to Fernando’s future than just McLaren?

  14. Caterham administrators in talks with possible new buyers

    Oct 31, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Italy - Practice Getty Images

    Administrators still hoping to get the team racing in Abu Dhabi, but will aim for the grid in 2015 if this is not possible.

  15. Tyler Reddick picks up Texas pole for tonight’s NASCAR Trucks race

    Oct 31, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 - Practice Getty Images

    Reddick captures his second Truck pole in the last three races.

  16. Hamilton inches away from Rosberg to top FP2 at COTA

    Oct 31, 2014, 4:32 PM EDT

    Lewis Hamilton AP

    British driver finishes just 0.003 seconds ahead of Rosberg in FP2, equating to just 6.7 inches around the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.

  17. Seeing red: Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Chevy gets a new look for Texas (VIDEO)

    Oct 31, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    AAA Texas 500 - Practice Getty Images

    The six-time Sprint Cup champion is driving the No. 48 Lowe’s “Red Vest” Chevrolet this weekend.

  18. Raikkonen: Return to Ferrari “100 percent the right decision”

    Oct 31, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of USA - Previews Getty Images

    Finnish driver has endured a difficult return to Maranello in 2014 after five years away.

  19. Late lap puts Brian Vickers atop first Sprint Cup practice at Texas

    Oct 31, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    AAA Texas 500 - Practice Getty Images

    Chase competitors Kevin Harvick and points leader Jeff Gordon crack the Top 5 speeds.

Video from NASCAR America

Who has the best chance in Texas?
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Logano (1163)
  2. J. Johnson (1103)
  3. K. Harvick (1092)
  4. K. Busch (836)
  5. J. McMurray (818)