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Monday, May 31, 2010

Indycar legends Ganassi, Penske steal show in Indy 500, Coke 600

Ganassi and Penske dominate the Indycar series on a weekly basis, and on Sunday, they dominated the NASCAR race too.

Kurt Busch, driving for Roger Penske, battled with Jamie McMurray, driving for Chip Ganassi, for the win in the Coke 600; This battle came just hours after the Ganassi-owned car driven by Dario Franchitti beat out the Penske entries and took the wreath and milk in Indianapolis.

It’s been an awesome year for Ganassi. He won the Daytona 500 with Jamie McMurray, who spent much of 2009 wondering if he’d have a ride in 2010. Then a Ganassi driver wins the Indy 500. And to top it all off, a Ganassi driver damn near won the Coke 600. For a guy who had to merge his NASCAR race team last year, that’s quite an accomplishment.

To put things in perspective and realize just how much things have turned around for Ganassi in NASCAR, think back a couple years to when Franchitti tried to make the move to NASCAR. It went horribly, sponsorship wasn’t there, and the effort had to be aborted. The experiment was a total failure for Ganassi, and he had to move Franchitti back over to the Indycar side of his operation.

In retrospect, that was a great decision, as Dario won a title his first year back, and now has won his second Indy 500. Meanwhile, the cars being built for Juan Pablo Montoya and McMurray are consistently good and the Earnhardt-Ganassi team is now a legitimate threat to make the Chase and win races.

A similar renaissance in NASCAR is occurring for Roger Penske, who won the Coke 600 with Kurt Busch on Sunday night. Busch is showing on a regular basis that he can compete for the title with drivers the caliber of Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. His win in the 600 completes a Charlotte sweep, after his All-Star win last Saturday.

The turnaround for Penske isn’t as dramatic, as he was always pretty decent. But this year has been spectacular, and there’s one big reason for that: Steve Addington. Moving from one Busch brother to the other during the offseason, this was a key pickup and a huge part of the reason Kurt Busch and the rest of the Penske team has moved it up a notch in 2010.

Jimmie’s struggles continue
It was a very rare offday for the #48 team, which ended up wrecking pretty hard after they just couldn’t come up with a setup on the car that worked. For a team with that proverbial horseshow hidden you-know-where, it was very strange to see Knaus and crew make bad calls in setting up the car, which led to Jimmie wrecking. Being the perfectionist he is, I would bet you Chad Knaus won’t sleep all week as he tries to figure out what happened so it doesn’t get repeated.

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