Chip Ganassi makes American motor sports history

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chip Ganassi (pictured in 2006) co-owns a NASCAR and an Indy racing team
Image: Stuart Berwick.
Teresa Earnhardt (pictured with her late husband, Dale) co-owns Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, the NASCAR team
Image: Darryl Moran.
Jamie McMurray (pictured in 2007) completed Ganassi's triple crown with Sunday's win
Image: Kim Phillips.

NASCAR and Indy team owners Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates became the first team owners in history to sweep the three top races in American motor sports. In February, NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray took the checkered flag at the Daytona 500 followed by Scottish driver Dario Franchitti's win in the Indy open wheel series at the Indianapolis 500 in May. Jamie McMurray helped make it a clean sweep when over the weekend he again took the top spot (and his second win of the season) by winning the Brickyard 400, also held at the Indianapolis Motor speedway.

Pole sitter Juan Pablo Montoya led the majority of Sunday's race, but in a late pit stop, he and his crew chief Brian Pattie conservatively changed four tires while teammate and rival McMurray changed only two. As a result, the Colombian born driver fell back in the field, and eventually crashed out of the race. This marks the second time Montoya has dominated this race only to fall short at the end.

NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Kevin Harvick finished in second place, followed by Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer and Tony Stewart.

Ganassi, a former open wheel driver, formed Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 1990. This team entered cars in North America's two leading open wheel series, CART and the Indy Racing League (IRL). Meanwhile in 1989, Sabates formed SABCO Racing to compete in the NASCAR Cup, the leading stock car class in the United States. Ganassi's operation merged with SABCO in 2001, forming an organization with teams that compete not only in NASCAR and IRL, but also in sports car endurance racing. Ganassi drivers won seven open wheel championships between 1996 and 2009. Missouri NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray re-joined Ganassi's team for the 2010 season, after a five year spell with Roush-Fenway Racing.

Also in North American motorsport on Sunday, Spanish rider Jorge Lorenzo took the checkered flag in the United States Grand Prix at California's Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Lorenzo's victory on a Fiat Yamaha bike, over Casey Stoner (second) and Valentino Rossi (third), strengthened his points lead in the MotoGP championship.

The next race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be held on Sunday at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, where Denny Hamlin is the defending race champion.

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