By AMANDA VINCENT
Statements from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series organizations Michael Waltrip Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing on Thursday have confirmed that Rob Kauffman, the majority owner of MWR, is in the process of acquiring an ownership stake in CGR.
“Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, has agreed to buy an interest in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates,” the statement from Michael Waltrip Racing received via e-mail read. “The companies will continue to operate separately and compete against each other for the remainder of the 2015 season. They are also currently evaluating ways to field the most competitive race teams possible to provide an excellent platform for their partners and employees for the 2016 season and beyond. More details will follow in due course.”
Chip Ganassi Racing’s statement read:
“We confirm that Rob Kauffman has agreed to acquire an interest in the team. Further discussions regarding the 2015 season and beyond are underway.”
News of the transaction began circulating yesterday, first by an article from Sports Business Journal. Various reports stemming from that article have had Kauffman taking MWR’s No. 15 team to CGR with him to expand Chip Ganassi Racing to a three-car team. Multiple reports also have had Kauffman buying Felix Sabates’ share of CGR. Sabates, though, told Motorsport.com on Wednesday that he wasn’t going anywhere.
“I am not going anywhere,” Sabates said, according to Motorsport.com. “I am having too much fun. Plus, I have unfinished business. I need to sit at the head table in Las Vegas.”
Sabates also has said publicly that he won’t be out at CGR until five years from Sept. 9, when he turns 75, the age at which he plans to retire.
Sabates also confirmed to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Wednesday evening that Chip Ganassi Racing would be a three-car team in 2016. The organization currently fields the No. 1 Chevrolet for Jamie McMurray and the No. 42 Chevrolet for Kyle Larson.
MWR currently fields two full-time Sprint Cup teams, the No. 15 Toyota for Clint Bowyer and the No. 55 Toyota for David Ragan.
At this point in time, the future of Michael Waltrip Racing after Kauffman’s aquisition of a portion of Chip Gananssi Racing is unknown. Some speculation has MWR switching from Toyota to Chevrolet. Other speculation has MWR falling by the wayside.
Michael Waltrip released a statement on Thursday afternoon that read, “My focus is on 2015 and fulfilling the commitment we have made to our partners and Toyota, which is placing our teams in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. There are a lot of details yet to be sorted regarding 2015. I will work closely with Rob Kauffman and our sponsor to formulate the best way forward.”
Kauffman invested in Michael Waltrip Racing when MWR was a struggling start-up team in 2007. Unnamed sources associated with MWR have said that MWR would have closed up shop years ago if not for Kauffman’s resources. Those sources also claim that Kauffman runs Michael Waltrip Racing, even though Waltrip’s name is on the door.
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