Editor’s note: Today’s Chip Ganassi Racing preview continues NASCAR.com’s countdown of team previews for the NASCAR Cup Series season, ranked in order of best finish in last year’s owner standings.
CHIP GANASSI RACING
Engine: Hendrick Engines
Drivers: Kurt Busch (No. 1), Kyle Larson (No. 42)
Crew chiefs: Matt McCall (No. 1), Chad Johnston (No. 42)
What’s new: CGR is one of what seems like just a few Cup Series teams that kept its driver-crew chief lineups in place for all of its cars. Looking to build off a strong 2019, that consistency should continue to pay off. What is new, however, is a bit of leadership change with 74-year-old Felix Sabates retiring from the sport. The longtime motorsports owner and visionary had been a partner at CGR since 2001, and it’ll be interesting to see if anything changes after such a longtime stalwart of the organization steps aside.
Team strength: The pure talent of its drivers. One could argue top-to-bottom CGR has the best natural wheelmen — admittedly a title that is a little easier to attain with a two-car stable — in the sport. As long as Busch and Larson have equipment that can allow them to be competitive with the top tier teams, the combination has the ability to muscle out wins on any track, any time.
Racing Insights Number to Know: Last year was the first season both CGR cars won since 2010 and marked a rebound season after going winless in 2018. Busch hopes to extend both his six-season streak with at least one win and his six-season streak of making the playoffs. Both drivers ended winless streaks of 30 or more races (Busch 30 races, Larson 75 races) in 2019. Larson hopes to extend his four-season streak of making the playoffs.
The Action Network Best Bet: Kyle Larson excels at high tire-wear intermediates and concrete surfaces, and the revamped 2020 Cup Series schedule offers Auto Club Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway all within the first eight races. Larson should be priced among the favorites in those races, but is still worth a wager if his odds are longer than the big three of Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. – PJ Walsh
2019 Stats: 1 win, 6 top fives, 18 top 10s, 13.1 average finish and 212 laps led
2020 Championship Odds: 40-1
Fantasy Live Five: Bristol, Sonoma, Kentucky, Atlanta, Texas
Outlook: Busch surprised a lot of people in 2019. After inheriting a ride Jamie McMurray failed to put in the playoffs on a consistent basis, Busch entered the season thought of as a fringe playoff contender. At certain points throughout 2019, however, the 2004 series champion appeared revitalized and in the mix for his second career title. It didn’t pan out, but it does offer much more optimism for 2020 — and beyond, as the 41-year-old signed a multi-year extension in November.
2019 Stats: 1 win, 8 top fives, 17 top 10s, 15.1 average finish and 529 laps led.
2020 Championship Odds: 10-1
Fantasy Live Five: Miami, Dover, Bristol, Darlington, Chicagoland
Outlook: Larson truly is an enigma. The talent is there, it’s evident and yet sometimes fleeting. With just one win through his first three years in the Cup Series, it appeared the phenom was breaking out in 2017, amassing four wins and a Round of 8 appearance. He followed that with a winless 2018 before getting hot late last season and starting to showcase his talent a little more. With things on the rise as a whole at CGR and a double-down on performance overall for Chevrolet after a couple of lacking seasons, Larson looks destined to start the prime of his career in 2020. We could very well be looking at the decade of “Yung Money” upon us.
NASCAR.com 2020 team previews schedule
Jan. 20: Teams outside the top 30
Jan. 21: Go Fas Racing
Jan. 22: Front Row Motorsports
Jan. 23: Richard Petty Motorsports
Jan. 24: Germain Racing
Jan. 27: Leavine Family Racing
Jan. 28: Richard Childress Racing
Jan. 29: JTG Daugherty Racing
Jan. 30: Wood Brothers Racing
Jan. 31: Roush Fenway Racing
Feb. 3: Hendrick Motorsports
Feb. 4: Chip Ganassi Racing
Feb. 5: Team Penske
Feb. 6: Stewart-Haas Racing
Feb. 7: Joe Gibbs Racing