Daytona 500 Team Preview: Chip Ganassi Racing

Chip Ganassi. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chip Ganassi. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Chip Ganassi Racing is one of the most successful organizations in motorsports, and this year will mark its 16th season in the NASCAR Cup Series. Sterling Marlin gave the team its first victory in its inaugural season of 2001. Chip Ganassi Racing would go on to add another that year and a dozen more over the years.

Several notable drivers have been part of Chip Ganassi Racing, including IndyCar stars Juan Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti, along with Mr. Excitement Jimmy Spencer, Casey Mears, and Jeremy Mayfield.

Kyle Larson holds Ganassi’s single-season win mark with four. But despite having all-star quality lineups, the one race that has eluded the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America inductee Chip Ganassi is the Daytona 500.

More Daytona 500 coverage: Daytona 500 Team Preview: Team Penske

Chip Ganassi Racing 'third' car

Ganassi has fielded two cars in recent years, but for the 63rd Edition of The Great American Race, a familiar name will return. Former Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray will trade in his NASCAR on FOX analyst suit and tie for a one-off try for a second Harley J. Earl Trophy.

He won’t be driving under the Ganassi banner but in the No. 77 Chevrolet Camaro entry from Spire Motorsports sponsored by AdventHealth, a team partner with Chip Ganassi Racing.

McMurray’s season-opening victory came in 2010, the last time the Daytona was held on Feb. 14, as it is this year.

Returning to the team is 2004 Cup Series Champion and 2017 Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch. He entered his third season and recorded a win in each of the previous two.

Joining him will be rookie Ross Chastain, who drove with Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series last year.

More Daytona 500 coverage: NASCAR Speedweeks and Daytona 500 ticket information

Here are their thoughts, shared during a virtual press conference.

Kurt Busch. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Kurt Busch, No. 1 Camaro ZL1 1LE

On what it feels like to strap in for the Daytona 500:

“It is different than all the other races. It’s the first race of the year, it’s the most powerful race. There’s always that question of, did we get everything prepped? Did we get all of our checklist done? You have all the months of re-build and training. So, there’s just all those emotions and all those thoughts. Ultimately, when you strap the helmet on and fire up the car, that’s that big deep breath of ‘oh yeah, it’s race time’ and I know the fans feel it that are there and the millions of viewers watching on TV. And then you have to remember, it’s a 500-mile race. It’s not just a quick stage race – it’s a full 500 miles. There’s a lot of emotions to control right at the beginning of the year.”

More Daytona 500 coverage: Austin Cindric will attempt to make the Daytona 500 in fourth Team Penske car

Ross Chastain. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Ross Chastain. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Ross Chastain, No 42 Camaro ZL1 1LE

On the time required for photoshoots, interviews, and preparing for the Daytona 500:

“All the pageantry and going to Daytona, I’ve been fortunate enough to run two Daytona 500 races and I’ve been there as a fan for years. Once I get in the car it won’t matter; but pre-race, the place won’t be sold out. We’ve been sold out for years in a row now and even back to photoshoots and these things, we should be at the 500 Club and the infield at Daytona doing this, not here. We should be in fire suits and carrying helmets around and trying to grab lunch in between sessions. We don’t get that person-to-person interaction.”
Jamie McMurray. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jamie McMurray. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Jamie McMurray, No. 77 Spire Motorsports Camaro ZL1 1LE

On getting back into the car for the biggest race of the NASCAR season:

“It doesn’t get any better than the Daytona 500, and I am so excited to have the opportunity, thanks to AdventHealth, to run this race one more time. I have enjoyed my time out of the car as an analyst covering NASCAR, but nothing can replace the feeling of actually racing.”

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Edited by Zaid Khan