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Felix Sabates Interview on ceasing operations of #40 Team July 2, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Breaking News, Drivers.
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Shot by The Daredevil at Daytona during Speedw...Image via WikipediaNASCAR Sprint Cup Series Team Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced (Tuesday) that due to a lack of sponsorship funding it will cease operation of the team’s No. 40 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Dodge driven by Dario Franchitti beginning this weekend in Daytona.

Felix Sabates told Claire B. Lang on “Dialed In” on XMSN (XM Channel 144) Tuesday evening that a number “in the low 70’s” of employees have been laid off.

CBL: You didn’t have a sponsor – people forget this team was unsponsored:

Sabates: “What happened to us we kind of got hung out to dry by Coors. Coors was with me for almost ten years and they had a management change and the new people come over and told us don’t worry about it – don’t look for a sponsor we’re going to be back with you in 2008, 2009 so we never looked for any sponsors and come October they come and tell us well Coors is going to do something else. They’re going to sponsor the NASCAR Coors pole and this and that so then it was too late (for the 2008 season)…so we have been running all year long without a sponsor.”

CBL: Talk about the options for Dario Franchitti:

Sabates: “Dario had a hard time with it. He made a change from the Indy Racing League to come here. But truth of the matter is he needs more seat time. We gave him an option to go in the Nationwide car because we do have a sponsor for the #40 Nationwide car. He’s going to decide what he’s going to do in the next few days and maybe he’ll be racing in Chicago (Nationwide race July 11)…..I hope he does get in the Nationwide car. He’s a very talented driver and if he gets a few more months under his belt maybe we can get a sponsor for next year and we can go racing next year.

Sabates told CBL on the cost of running the team and how much he’s paid to keep it running: – “It cost you $20 to $21, $22 million dollars to run a competitive team and if you run 15 races and you don’t have any money coming in you have already lost $10 or $11 million dollars.”

Sabates on Dario’s choices: “Chip pretty much told him if he wanted to go to back to Indy that, because it doesn’t cost near as much money there as it does here, and over there Chip is the Rick Hendrick of over here – so he can get a sponsor for an IRL car very easily. So he got his choice – if he wants to drive the Nationwide Car – get some more experience, maybe we’ll get a sponsor for next year or go back to the IRL it’s up to Dario – he has a contract and we intend to honor it.”

Sabates on what he thinks Dario will do: “At the end of the day – I think he will get in the Nationwide car- he needs more seat time anyway.”

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Garage Update: Tums Ride, Stremme in for Dario April 27, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Breaking News, Drivers, In The Garage, Transcripts.
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Talladega Superspeedway- David Stremme Transcript

David Stremme who will fill in for Dario Franchitti and competition manager for Chip Ganassi Racing Steve Hmiel met with reporters at the Ganassi hauler in the garage this morning here at Talladega Superspeedway. Bottom line – Sremme is in for one race, Dario will see his Doctor in Indy and the team will look at other opions on Monday. Here are the key parts of the conversation:

Question: When did you get contacted and how do you feel about filling in for Dario today?
Stremme: “Obviously, right after the race yesterday people had started talking with Jeff Dickerson who represents me and there’s a lot of chain of events that had to go on. Obviously, I called Rusty and had to ask him and then we called Roger (Penske) and asked him which Chip (Ganassi) had already spoke to him in Kansas. So all that was approved and then it was just a matter of getting my seat insert down here and putting it in the car. But you know this is something we don’t like to see anybody get hurt and I didn’t know how bad Dario was. During the race I knew they were working on him down there but there were so many big wrecks yesterday. But it was just a misfortune. I went and seen Dario last night. His ankle was all wrapped up and stuff and you know we’ll just sit in for him today and try to help him out.

Question: Steve (Hmiel), what’s the deal looking ahead and how is Dario doing and that sort of thing how long will he be out?
Hmiel: I don’t know. He’s actually out here in his motor home and I’m sure he’ll end up going to Indianapolis this week to see Dr. Trammell and his group. Probably the best in the business at patching stuff like that up. They can perform miracles it seems like but you’d think an ankle injury like that would be at least two to three weeks even more.

David have they talked to you about filling in for other races?
Stremme: It’s just this weekend. That’s all we got.

Question: You really got an opportunity to show some people – that -you know you got something to prove that you still have a shot in these cars…
Stremme: It’s not really necessarily today that I have something to prove. I mean I proved that signing with Roger Penske and the opportunity they’re going to give me there. It’s something that I feel very strong on the situation I have there and looking forward and what I have with that organization. Nothing with Chip and them I left on good terms and that’s why I’m helping them out today.

Question – But you did very well yesterday and you’ve done well at this track so this would be an opportunity…
Stremme: Yea obviously – we could win today you never know – here. You know like yesterday we had a really good run and I like speedway racing. We finished seventh here in the spring last year with this same team. So, ahm…but there’s a lot of obstacles that we gotta overcome. They had to qualify the car in- there’s a couple of things that they got to do there. But at the end of the day you know anybody can win this race and I feel like plate racing – I have a lot of fun at it and that’s what we are going to do today is get them the best finish we can for Dario, Chip and Tums.

Hmiel: We don’t know. We’re very grateful that we have David for this weekend and after that it’s a matter of getting through today, seeing where Dario ends up and then sitting down as a group and deciding who’se the best option for where we’re going. Certainly we’d like to have one stand out guy like David Stremme do it all. He’s not available so we may end up picking and choosing a little bit based on the fact that we have to qualify this car into the race because we are not in the top 35 and we have to look at all our options in terms of getting the car into the race and then how good we’ll do in the race to stay in the top 35. So we may end up with multiple drivers. We may end up with one single driver. All that’s the kind of stuff that we’ll talk about on a Monday morning at the shop certainly with Chip and with everyone else involved.

Note: When asked about whether his contract would allow him more – Stremme repeated “This is a one race deal.” Steve Hmiel noted that they had asked for Stremme to possibly be available for more but it’s clear that that is not an option at this point and that this indeed is a one-off race for Stremme to help another driver out and to assist Chip Ganassi in a pinch.