Saturday, January 26, 2013

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing partners with Cessna, looks forward to 2013 season


Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR
(L-R) Earnhardt Ganassi Racing teammates Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya are introduced as Scott Dixon looks on during the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Media Tour
 on Jan. 23, 2013 in Concord, N.C.
The Sprint Media Tour provides the perfect platform for teams to announce major sponsorship agreements and this season Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing Teams had perhaps the most dramatic reveal. On Wednesday, inside a hangar at Concord Regional Airport, Ganassi's seven drivers from three series posed with a Cessna X, a Bell Helicopter and a Bad Boy Buggy, which is part of the E-Z-GO personal transportation family. Sprint Cup drivers Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya lined up beside Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Charlie Kimball of the IZOD IndyCar Series as well as 2012 Rolex Sports Car Series champions Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.

Among that group: six IndyCar championships (two for Dixon, four for Franchitti), five GRAND-AM championships (Pruett has five, Rojas partnered with him for four of them), four Indianapolis 500s, four Rolex 24 At Daytona races (Pruett-Rojas), a Daytona 500 (McMurray), a Brickyard 400 (McMurray), a CART championship (Montoya) and 150 other race wins.

Ganassi said, "There’s obviously something missing from that list, and that’s a NASCAR championship. We want to add that to our list of  accomplishments."

The sponsorship, which gives EGR a boost after the departure of Bass Pro Shops, extends across all three series, and McMurray's No. 1 Chevy SS will sport the Cessna logo on its hood through multiple races.

2013 is widely regarded as a make-or-break season for the team. McMurray won in just his second Cup start while filling in for an injured Sterling Marlin. But since that 2002 surprise victory, the Missouri native has only scored five wins. Montoya scored seven wins and 30 podium finishes in F1. In two seasons of CART he won 11 times, including a crossover win in the 2000 Indy 500 and four wins on ovals. Yet in NASCAR (Cup and Nationwide) he's only won three times and all on road courses. McMurray had only three top-10 finishes in 2013, ending up 21st in points. Montoya came in right behind him in 22nd, with just two top 10s. 

Still, Montoya and McMurray are ready for the upcoming season. "I’m really excited to get this season started," said McMurray. "There’s a lot of positive energy on this team right now, and having Cessna onboard has really been a shot in the arm for this entire organization."

"I’m not going to come out and say that I’m confident we’re going to have a great season, but the way testing has gone, it’s hard not to be excited," said Montoya. "We’re bringing back our whole team. That’s very rare. I think that is going to be an advantage for us."

All seven drivers are participating in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, along with Joey Hand, who was part of the 2011 winning team. Thursday Pruett scored his fifth pole in the iconic race and Dixon made it an all-Ganassi front row. The 24-hour race ends Sunday at about 3:30p.m. Eastern, televised live on SPEED.


Janine, aka Lisa or LJ, Cloud, a fifth-generation Texan, lives in Houston and considers Texas Motor Speedway her home track. She's been a part of the Skirts and Scuffs team since May, 2011, going from contributor to media rep, photographer, and associate editor covering both NASCAR and IZOD IndyCar. Janine considers it a privilege to represent the site at the track and to share with readers the excitement of the world of motorsports.

Follow her on Twitter @ljc777.

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