Sprint Cup team preview: Chip Ganassi Racing
January 26, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
Rookie Larson, veteran McMurray aim to help Ganassi regroup
-- After a five-year run as Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, the organization has returned to its roots, dropping the "Earnhardt" name and affiliation.
-- Ganassi’s NASCAR Sprint Cup effort, which debuted in 2001, has failed to match the results of his championship-winning open-wheel and sports car teams.
-- Cup drivers have won 11 times for the group, but have finished in the top 10 in points only twice -- Sterling Marlin in 2001 and Juan Pablo Montoya in 2008.
2014 Driver Lineup
The 37-year-old McMurray has seven career wins, including last season’s fall stop at Talladega Superspeedway. His 15th-place points finish was his best since 2010. The big change for the No. 1 team comes at crew chief, where Keith Rodden, former lead engineer with the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team and driver Kasey Kahne, has replaced Kevin "Bono" Manion.
Larson, meanwhile, steps into the ride previously held by Montoya. He made four Sprint Cup Series starts in 2013 for Phoenix Racing, with a best finish of 15th at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He is one of at least six Cup drivers competing for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.
Larson's 2013 results included his first career win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (Rockingham Speedway) and an eighth-place points finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, where he had four runner-up results and was named Rookie of the Year. Chris Heroy returns as the team's crew chief.
Can a crew chief change put McMurray back in the mix in 2014? He won a career-best three races in 2010, his first season with the team following a four-year stint with Roush Fenway Racing.
Larson's biggest hurdle might not be his lack of experience in a Cup car, but driving for an organization that has yet to prove it can run up front consistently.