Skip to content

Ganassi, Pruett excited for Ford future

Nov 7, 2013, 9:00 AM EST

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. (Updated) Remembering iconic motorsports PR great Denny Darnell

    Nov 23, 2014, 6:10 PM EST

    Denny Darnell (far left), with wife Jean, and Cyndee and Jerry Bonkowski. Denny Darnell (far left), with wife Jean, and Cyndee and Jerry Bonkowski.

    The world of motorsports — particularly NASCAR and NHRA — is mourning arguably the best public relations person it has ever seen, Denny Darnell, who passed away Saturday.

  2. Post-race fights in NASCAR Chase joked about during Eagles-Titans skirmish

    Nov 23, 2014, 6:00 PM EST

    Brad Keselowsk AP

    The Charlotte and Texas brawls from this year’s Chase are still resonating weeks after they occurred.

  3. Marcos Ambrose wasting no time gearing up for V8 Supercars return in Australia

    Nov 23, 2014, 5:17 PM EST

    Marcos Ambrose is back home in Australia and already back in a V8 Supercar, preparing for his first race in two weeks. (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Marcos Ambrose is wasting little time in his return to racing V8 Supercars in his native Australia.

  4. Virtual insanity: Meet the Chevy Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo

    Nov 23, 2014, 4:30 PM EST

    Los Angeles Hosts Annual Auto Show Getty Images

    A wild concept collaboration for Gran Turismo 6 between the Bowtie and famous race car builder Chaparral.

  5. Petty’s 1988 Daytona wreck sold as prelude to upcoming auction of NASCAR Hall of Famer Cotton Owens estate

    Nov 23, 2014, 3:53 PM EST

    (Photo courtesy Greenville News) (Photo courtesy Greenville News)

    The remains of Richard Petty’s crashed 1988 Pontiac Grand Prix from the 1988 Daytona 500 sold Saturday, a prelude of an even larger auction of late NASCAR Hall of Famer Cotton Owens’ estate on Dec. 6.

  6. After thrilling title finale, NASCAR withdrawal now setting in

    Nov 23, 2014, 2:30 PM EST

    Ford EcoBoost 400 Getty Images

    This weekend is the first without a NASCAR race since mid-July.

  7. Abu Dhabi GP Paddock Notebook – Sunday

    Nov 23, 2014, 2:00 PM EST

    Lewis Hamilton AP

    For the last time in 2014, we round up all of the action in the paddock as Lewis Hamilton became Formula 1 world champion for the second time.

  8. Force India rallies to double points score in Abu Dhabi

    Nov 23, 2014, 1:30 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Qualifying Getty Images

    It’s not enough to beat McLaren in the constructors’, but a great result nevertheless for Hulkenberg and Perez in Abu Dhabi.

  9. Lotus’ Twitter hilarity powers through a challenging Renault sendoff

    Nov 23, 2014, 1:15 PM EST

    MaldonadoAD Getty Images

    Lotus laughs rather than cries after a fitting end to its challenging 2014 season.

  10. Button top-five caps off end of what could be several eras at McLaren

    Nov 23, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    ButtonSignoff Getty Images

    We know McLaren and Mercedes are done. But what of Jenson Button and/or Kevin Magnussen?

  11. Ricciardo stars once more, from pit lane to fourth in Abu Dhabi

    Nov 23, 2014, 12:45 PM EST

    RicciardoAD Getty Images

    Quite a drive from Daniel Ricciardo, primarily aided by start on primes.

  12. Vettel thanks Red Bull for “incredible journey”

    Nov 23, 2014, 12:15 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi Getty Images

    After winning four world titles with Red Bull, Vettel is bound for Ferrari in 2015.

  13. Prince Harry and David Cameron congratulate Hamilton on F1 title

    Nov 23, 2014, 11:45 AM EST

    Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    On a great day for British motorsport, Prince Harry and British Prime Minister David Cameron send their congratulations to Hamilton.

  14. Alonso rates time with Ferrari as 9/10, finishes P9 in final race for the Scuderia

    Nov 23, 2014, 11:30 AM EST

    Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Alonso is set to join McLaren in 2015 after five years with Ferrari.

  15. Rosberg gracious in title defeat, says Hamilton deserved championship

    Nov 23, 2014, 11:15 AM EST

    Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    An engine failure cost Rosberg the chance to emulate his father and become F1 world champion.

  16. Williams double podium caps phenomenal comeback season

    Nov 23, 2014, 10:56 AM EST

    ADpodium Getty Images

    Second and third for Massa and Bottas caps an incredible 2014 season for Williams.

  17. Hamilton calls second title victory “the greatest day of my life”

    Nov 23, 2014, 10:13 AM EST

    AUTO-PRIX-F1-ABU-DHABI-PODIUM Getty Images

    British driver wins his second F1 championship in Abu Dhabi as title rival Nico Rosberg fails to finish in the points.

  18. Hamilton clinches second F1 world title by winning Abu Dhabi GP

    Nov 23, 2014, 9:45 AM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi Getty Images

    An engine failure for Nico Rosberg leaves Hamilton free to win the race under the lights in Abu Dhabi and clinch his second world title.

  19. GP2: Coletti wins final race of the season in Abu Dhabi

    Nov 23, 2014, 8:30 AM EST

    © GP2 Media Service © GP2 Media Service

    F1′s feeder series comes to a close in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

  20. GP3: Stoneman and Niederhauser close out season with wins

    Nov 23, 2014, 7:45 AM EST

    © GP3 Media © GP3 Media

    The third tier single seater series comes to a close in Abu Dhabi, with Alex Lynn winning the championship.

Video from NASCAR America

Most unexpected event of 2014?
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (1749)
  2. K. Kahne (1703)
  3. J. Johnson (1649)
  4. D. Hamlin (1555)
  5. T. Stewart (1553)
  1. J. Logano (1548)
  2. J. McMurray (1539)
  3. A. Almirola (1315)
  4. R. Newman (1139)
  5. K. Harvick (1088)