Ganassi: McMurray will drive for me in '06
Driver not happy about owner exercising one-year option
By Ryan Smithson, NASCAR.COM
August 12, 2005
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Chip Ganassi made one thing clear on Friday at Watkins Glen: Jamie McMurray will drive the full 2006 season for him whether he likes it or not.
And McMurray is not happy about it.
"If they chose to keep me next year, I will have to honor that original contract," McMurray said. "Of course, the question is, why would an owner want to keep a driver that has already committed to another team in 2007?"
McMurray is raring to begin his new job at Roush Racing, where he is set to replace the retiring Mark Martin in the No. 6 Ford. But Ganassi has said he will exercise a one-year option on McMurray's contract, which prevents him from joining Roush until 2007.
Such a move will likely bring Martin back for another year unless Roush Racing can find a quality driver willing to accept a one-year deal.
Ganassi announced his 2006 driver lineup on Friday. He is expanding to four teams, and McMurray was clearly hoping he would be allowed to step aside.
That didn't happen.
While his teammates were busy at the press conference discussing their 2006 plans, McMurray turned and headed to the garage without answering questions.
"Obviously I'd rather move on since I've already made my future plans known," McMurray said later Friday, "but I did sign a contract with my current team that included an option for next year."
McMurray signed with Ganassi in Sept. 2002. The deal gave Ganassi the option to keep McMurray for four full Nextel Cup seasons. During that time, he has worked almost exclusively with crew chief Donnie Wingo, but Ganassi hasn't announced his crew chief lineup for 2006.
Part of Ganassi's decision to retain McMurray might lie in the fact that there are simply not many quality drivers available. Keeping McMurray will give Ganassi a full year to find McMurray's replacement.
Ganassi knows the decision is his. He's comfortable with his choice.
"I am not happy about a lot of things, but I don't leave," Ganassi said.
"A lot of people think Major League Baseball has too many teams," said Ganassi. "With the growth of motorsports, I would have to agree there is a dilution of talent."
Marlin leaves Watkins Glen to tend to ailing father
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Chip Ganassi Racing will probably not make a decision until Saturday whether or not Sterling Marlin will be available to drive in Sunday's Sirius at the Glen.
Marlin's father Coo-Coo, 73, is fighting cancer and is seriously ill, and Marlin left Watkins Glen on Thursday.
The Marlins are from Columbia, Tenn., and the elder Marlin is a retired farmer and cattleman who raced off-and-on in NASCAR's top division for 14 seasons.
"I talked to Sterling about two hours ago, at that point Coo-Coo's condition had stabilized, but the next 12 hours are critical," said Ganassi Racing team manager Andy Graves.
David Stremme practiced the No. 40 Dodge on Friday with help from Scott Pruett. The team attached rookie stripes to the car because Stremme has only one career start.
"David is the first to tell you he doesn't have that much road-racing experience, but to us, this is an excellent opportunity to give him more laps," said Graves.
Even as Ganassi was announcing his 2006 lineup on Friday at Watkins Glen, owner Chip Ganassi paid homage to Marlin, who has driven for him since he purchased a controlling interest in the team in 2000.
"Sterling Marlin is not here this morning, and his father is not doing too well," Ganassi said. "He flew out of here last night to go back home to be with Coo Coo."
"None of this could happen today without the steadfast support of Sterling Marlin since I got in partners with Felix," said Ganassi. "A lot needs to be said there about that man."
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I grew up watching Coo Coo race in Nashville. Here's a link to an article about him. My thoughts and prayers are with him.
Coo Coo Marlin, father of Sterling Marlin, dead at 73
COLUMBIA, Tenn. (AP) -- Clifton ``Coo Coo'' Marlin, one of NASCAR's early stars and father of current Nextel Cup driver Sterling Marlin, died Sunday after a battle with lung cancer. He was 73.
Marlin died in his hometown of Columbia, Tenn., said officials from Chip Ganassi Racing, which fields cars for Sterling Marlin.
Sterling Marlin had returned home from this week's race in Watkins Glen, N.Y., to be with his father. Scott Pruett was scheduled to replace him in Sunday's event.
Although he never won a NASCAR points race, Marlin was one of the sport's earliest stars. A hard-nosed racer who made his name racing around the short tracks in Tennessee and Alabama. He became a regular at the Tennessee Fairgrounds, running against the likes of Bobby and Donny Allison and Red Farmer
Marlin won his first title at the Fairgrounds in 1959. He added titles in 1962, then again in 1966 and 1967 and his four titles are a record at the now-defunct race track.
Marlin moved onto NASCAR, where he made 165 Cup starts from 1966 to 1980. He had no wins, but earned nine top-fives and 51 top-10 finishes. His series best points finish was 20th in the 1975 season.
Recognized as a driver, Marlin also was well-known for a blue collar work ethic that kept him maintaining the land on his Tennessee farm until his death. He passed that work ethic on to his son, Sterling, who despite being a two-time Daytona 500 winner still spends his weekdays working on the farm.
This is so sad. My thoughts and prayers are with the Marlin family.
Robbie Loomis to Petty Enterprises
WOW that didn't take long.....Loomis back to Petty in 2006: Kyle Petty, CEO of Petty Enterprises, today announced the organization's addition of championship-winning crew chief Robbie Loomis as executive vice president of race operations. In his new role, Loomis will head the day-to-day operations of Level Cross-based Petty Enterprises and its two full-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams -- the #43 Dodges driven by Jeff Green and the #45 Dodges piloted by Petty."We are excited that Robbie will be rejoining Petty Enterprises," Petty said. "Robbie won races as a crew chief here, and then won a lot of races and a championship with Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports. We have great respect for the entire Hendrick organization, and know that Robbie's experience with the Hendrick team has prepared him well for the role he will take on at Petty Enterprises. Robbie Loomis will direct our entire race operation, and we expect his experience and his ability to mold a team to help us get to the next level. Robbie has been a part of our family for a long time, and we're happy to have him come home." Loomis, 41, will leave his position as crew chief of Hendrick Motorsports' #24 Chevrolets. Before rejoining Petty, the Forest City, Fla., native will work as a consultant to Concord-based Hendrick Motorsports as the operation pursues the 2005 NEXTEL Cup championship with the #48 Chevrolets.
"We still have a job to do," said Loomis, who won a Cup title with driver Jeff Gordon in 2001 after coming to Hendrick from Petty Enterprises in 2000. "Our goal is winning that championship with Jimmie (Johnson), Chad (Knaus) and the #48 team. I'm here to support them in any way I possibly can. "Hendrick Motorsports opened my eyes to a whole different level of this industry. The experience has allowed me to see things from a new perspective and learn important lessons about business and life. I'm truly grateful to Rick, Jeff and the 500 people who make Hendrick Motorsports so special. "I was with the Petty family for 11 years before being blessed to work with Jeff and the #24 team. Kyle and Richard (Petty) are giving me an incredible opportunity to come home, back where I started my career, and I' m honored and excited to do that."Hendrick Motorsports
Steve Letarte Crew Chief for the 24 Car
Letarte Gordon's new crew chief starting at NHIS: With Robbie Loomis’ move back to Petty Enterprises, Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick today introduced Steve Letarte as crew chief of the #24 entries driven by Gordon, a four-time Cup Series champion. Letarte will call his first race Sunday at Loudon, N.H., less than 70 miles from his hometown of Cornish, Maine. Letarte, 26, has been with the #24 team full-time since 1996, winning three Cup titles under the tutelage of crew chiefs Ray Evernham, Brian Whitesell and Loomis. He has worked as a tire specialist, mechanic and car chief. “To have a chance like this with Hendrick Motorsports is incredible,” Letarte said. “I couldn’t ask to work with a better driver or a more talented group of people. I’m committed to continuing the winning tradition of this team, closing 2005 on a positive note and pushing toward Jeff’s fifth championship next year.” Letarte takes over a crew with a pair of pole positions and three victories this season. Only two NEXTEL Cup teams have more wins in 2005. “I’m sad to see Robbie leave,” Gordon said. “We made a great team and had more wins ahead of us, but the Pettys presented him with a fantastic opportunity. For him, it was time for a change and I’m happy he’s found the right fit. “I’ve worked with Steve for more than 10 years and we already communicate extremely well, both on and off the track. The team has a ton of confidence in his abilities, so we’re looking forward to the last 10 races of 2005 and getting an early jump on next year