RELATED: MWR won't run full-time Cup team Officials with Michael Waltrip Racing have begun the process of shutting down the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series organization, filing the required Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notice (WARN) with the North Carolina Commerce Department detailing the anticipated layoff of its employees. Any employer planning the closure of a company or large layoffs is required to file a WARN notice with the state. Notices must also be filed with those workers affected, or their representatives, the N.C. Division of Workforce Solutions and the chief elected government official where the site/company is located. According to the document, the company will lay off a total of 217 employees during a five-and-a-half month period, from Nov. 1 through April 15 of next year. MWR, which began competing full-time in 2007, currently fields two full-time teams, the No. 15 Toyota for driver Clint Bowyer and the No. 55 Toyota for driver David Ragan . The racing facility is located in Cornelius, North Carolina. At its height, MWR fielded three full-time teams, and its drivers have won seven Sprint Cup events. Its last victory came during the 2013 season and Bowyer has the team's highest points finish, placing second in the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Bowyer enters this weekend's race, the Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway , looking to earn one of the remaining positions in this year's 16-team Chase field. Ragan, who joined the team after 11 races, is 24th in points. On Aug. 19, MWR officials announced that the organization and Bowyer had mutually agreed to sever their relationship following the completion of the 2015 racing season, which concludes in November at Homestead-Miami Speedway . RELATED: MWR, Bowyer to go separate ways It was also stated at that time that MWR would not field a full-time entry beyond this season. Co-owner Rob Kauffman, whose financial resources helped keep the team afloat shortly after its debut, announced in late July that he was in the process of purchasing an interest in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. RELATED: Kauffman buys interest in CGR In August, he said that MWR "really wouldn't have existed through to today without substantial and continued financial support from me. "I think that from a business standpoint it didn't make sense any longer. You can't have a top-10 budget and top-10 resources and not be in the top 10 for a sustained period of time," he said. "It's a performance related business, it's all about performance. It's a great sport but a very difficult business model. From a business decision it just made sense to not go forward with that organization, which isn't really commercially viable." Neither Bowyer nor Ragan has announced plans for 2016. Their current sponsors, 5-hour ENERGY (Bowyer) and Aaron's (Ragan) also have not announced sponsorship plans beyond this season.
SHR team innovates on throwback weekend; display will be mandatory in 2016 MORE: Q&A on new digital dash DARLINGTON, S.C. -- NASCAR and its teams may be turning back the clock this weekend with Darlington Raceway 's "throwback" initiative and the return of the Bojangles' Southern 500 to the Labor Day holiday weekend, but both groups remain focused on the future as well. Case in point -- the Stewart-Haas Racing team with driver Kurt Busch . While the No. 41 Chevrolet is one of more than 30 entries featuring a retro paint scheme here this weekend, it is the only Sprint Cup entry featuring the new digital display (dashboard). Took this pic before practice. This is what the digital dash looks like from my perspective. #BojanglesSo500 pic.twitter.com/IWZCVwoHis — Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) September 4, 2015 Teams were allowed to begin using the new technology in August; however this is the first time a team has had the new piece in place for a race weekend. The digital dash display will be mandatory in all Sprint Cup entries beginning in 2016. "With digital dash, you get the same information everyone else does," Greg Zipadelli, Vice President of Competition for SHR, said Friday morning at Darlington. "Obviously … the digital dash offers an awful lot of data … just a ton of stuff depending on what kind of channels they allow us to use in the future." That additional data won't be available this weekend – the system will provide only the readings available through current analog gauges. "It takes a little bit different (wiring) harness, a different dashboard," Zipadelli said. "(Kurt) was willing to run it. It allowed a group of our guys at the shop to just basically jump on it; we're just trying to be a little bit ahead for next year and get some feedback, how does it work, what does he like about it, let the other drivers see it. RELATED: How has Kurt fared at Darlington? "That's really the only reason for us. We've got to do it next year, we don't have a choice, so we felt like we would embrace it and try … I don't want to try to figure it out at Daytona or Phoenix next year." There is a slight weight difference, he said, noting that the digital display is heavier. "So we worked a little bit harder on the surroundings of it to try and get it back to being equal." Earlier this year, Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR vice president of innovation and racing development, said the amount "of information we share and what we share will be somewhat dependent on the ability to telematically send information." "The teams will be getting the same information they get currently; and they do have the ability to reconfigure the dash to their liking. "We are also working on a tire-pressure monitoring system that will feed to the digital dash. The digital dash already has the receiver built into it; we're working on the technology from the tires to talk to the dash. We will then be able to log the tire pressures during a race and take those post-race. The question is can we have real-time pressure monitoring?" Current configurations inside the cars feature individual analog gauges for oil and water pressures, tachometer, fuel pressure and voltage. The digital dashboard will display similar information, but also has the ability to provide additional feedback such as the tire pressures mentioned by Stefanyshyn, lap times and even relevant pit stop information. Jamie McMurray , driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates No. 1 Chevrolet, previewed the digital technology earlier this year during a Goodyear tire test at Kentucky. By flipping a switch, McMurray noted, the new dash also has the ability to revert to a screen that displays the information in a more conventional manner. Same dash just changed the page by hitting a switch. WAY different than what we have been using. pic.twitter.com/NNBdNRaYKs — Jamie McMurray (@jamiemcmurray) April 13, 2015 In addition to providing more information to teams and drivers, officials have said it is hoped that the information can also be provided to fans to enhance the viewing experience. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Team owner won at the Brickyard in 2010 with driver Jamie McMurray Indianapolis Motor Speedway holds a special spot in Chip Ganassi's heart, as a backdrop to his five starts as an IndyCar driver to his five wins as a car owner -- one in NASCAR and four in the Indianapolis 500. The track's rich history, the sense of place -- all are palpable when his team sets up camp in Gasoline Alley for a race weekend in either series. But despite his fondness for Indy, Ganassi insists there's not a Target-red marker to circle the Speedway's place on the NASCAR calendar for emphasis. With seven races left to get his drivers Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson in position for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, the 57-year-old team owner said each event carries its own importance. "I don't think there's any extra pressure. If there's any pressure at all, it's every race," Ganassi says. "There's a certain amount that goes with every event, but I mean, Indy is in some sense a big event and I know our guys like big events. In another sense, it's just another race and we want to approach it the same way, but we're certainly excited about going there." The sense of time and place is also meaningful for McMurray heading into Sunday's Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM), an event he won as part of his banner season of 2010, his first with the team that is now known as Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. In some ways, McMurray says, his Brickyard victory seems like a distant memory but in other ways not as much. Ganassi's longest-tenured driver said he often frames events now in relation to his children's ages. At the time of his Indy win, his wife, Christy, was pregnant with the couple's first child, Carter -- now 4 1/2 years old. Their status as happy parents-to-be comes through in all the photos from Victory Lane and the traditional kiss of the yard of bricks at the start-finish line, but so is the joy shared by Ganassi and Sabates savoring their first stock-car triumph at the birthplace of Indianapolis-style racing . The venerable Speedway certainly remains cherished, but McMurray said the approach doesn't change for this weekend. "I don't remember Chip ever mentioning anything about this race being more important to him than any other race, even though he has the background with the IndyCar team and has the shop based there," McMurray said. "It was a really big deal for us to be able to win there in 2010 -- the pictures, the memories … I loved getting to watch the TV footage afterward of how excited Chip was with Felix being able to win there. But honestly, I don't remember him ever mentioning anything about we need to put more effort into this weekend over any other." Some extra effort will be necessary this weekend, if only because a new, high-drag aero package awaits Sprint Cup teams. To help teams adjust to the rules changes, Friday practice has been expanded to three sessions totaling four hours and 40 minutes, an increase of one hour, 25 minutes from 2014. The extra time might be welcome for crew chiefs such as Matt McCall , in his first year overseeing McMurray's No. 1 Chevrolet. A raised rear spoiler and other aero devices are expected to produce closer, almost pack-style racing at Indianapolis this weekend and at Michigan International Speedway next month but McCall said he's reserving judgment on how cars will react until his team can log track time. "Obviously, you've got wind tunnel data to think you know what it's going to be like, but until they actually make some laps …," McCall said, trailing off with a slight shrug. "I think a couple of cars put the package on at the Chicago test (last week), so with a little bit of feedback, we'll be able to pay attention to that. Still, once you get most of the cars on the race track, you'll get a better idea of what will happen. "It's different, so that's sort of good. Any type of change that'll get your mind thinking a different way, I'm all about it. Sometimes the setup gets so repetitive that it's the same every single week, so pretty cool to have a chance to play on something different." NASCAR officials instituted a low-downforce package two weeks ago at Kentucky Speedway, producing a harder-to-handle car that placed greater emphasis on driver input. The result was the most competitive Sprint Cup race -- measured in green-flag passes -- in the series' five-year run in the Bluegrass State. The widely different trim of the Indianapolis package may be signaling a shift toward track-specific setups, all in the hope of promoting better racing with tailor-made aerodynamics. With that concept just beginning to take root, Ganassi said it's still too early to weigh potential benefits against possible drawbacks. "I have mixed feelings about it and what I've found, I had some feelings about the Kentucky package that really were unfounded concerns, I realized later," Ganassi said. "So I want to be careful what I say about Indianapolis and kind of go in with an open mind. I think in one sense, it's a bit of an equalizer in that no one's tested that package there. So it's going to be interesting to see what happens and it could be an advantage for us." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman talks about future plans to integrate MWR with Chip Ganassi Racing with whom he has purchased interest.
Team will field two Ford GTs in full IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in 2016 Chip Ganassi has achieved legendary status as a team owner in NASCAR, sports cars and IndyCar racing , with victories in many of the world's most prestigious races, including the Daytona 500 , Indianapolis 500, Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Ganassi joined top Ford executives in announcing an ambitious new program for the Ford GT race car at a press conference Friday in Le Mans, France, ahead of this weekend's 24 Hours of Le Mans. With Ford's backing, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will field two Ford GTs in the full IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in 2016, beginning with the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 30-31. The team also will field two cars in the FIA World Endurance Championship. All four cars are expected to compete in the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans, marking the 50th Anniversary of Ford's overall victory in the prestigious endurance race. "At Ganassi Racing , we've won 17 major championships over the years; over 160 races," said Ganassi . "We've won the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500 , the 24 Hours of Daytona and the Twelve Hours of Sebring, but we've never run at Le Mans. I can tell you, we want to win this race, and when Ford presented us that opportunity, a chance to compete here, well, what race team wouldn't want to be a part of that?" The seeds for this opportunity with Ford were sown in 2013, when the team announced a new partnership with Ford to supply the team's Riley Daytona Prototypes with 3.5-liter, twin-turbo, V-6 EcoBoost power. Only those on the inside had any inkling that this racing program was doubling as a development program for an engine that will power not only the new Ford GT race car, but also the production version of the Ford GT race car that was launched to overwhelming fanfare at the North American International Auto Show this past January. A couple of weeks after that new car was introduced, NASCAR stars Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray combined with IndyCar stars Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan to win the Rolex 24 At Daytona in Ganassi's No. 02 Ford EcoBoost/Riley DP. "We spent the last year and a half getting a better understanding of each other's strengths, while jointly developing the engine that will be in the race car and the road car," Ganassi said. "We're very proud of that." Ganassi isn't the only one. IMSA CEO Ed Bennett was in the audience for Friday's highly anticipated announcement and was equally proud of the attention given to the technology transfer story. "It's an exciting time with a really exciting car," Bennett said. "The fact that the engine technology was developed in the Daytona Prototype the last couple of years with the EcoBoost V6 and now it's being applied to this car, it's the ultimate validation of what a racing program can do." Everybody will get their first opportunity to see what this new racing program can do for the first time next Jan. 30-31 in the 54th Rolex 24 At Daytona. "It shows a clear commitment from Ford for sports car racing , and it's obviously a fantastic, significant development for the TUDOR Championship," Bennett said. "We couldn't be more proud that the first place this car will race is at the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona, which will also be the first chance to show off the new Daytona Rising upgrades to the facility. "A brand-new facility, and a brand-new Ford GT racing program – for all that to happen together, in a 24-hour environment – will be very exciting, and very special." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
RELATED: Chase Grid " Chase Bubble Watch Kyle Larson spent three intense days at Homestead-Miami Speedway last week logging laps, studying data and working on what could potentially be the most important homework assignment of his career. So far. Knowing that the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion will be crowned at the Nov. 22 season-finale at the 1.5-mile speedway, the test session -- a two-day Goodyear tire test followed by a one-day open test -- was an essential learning tool. Thing is, Larson, last year's Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year, still has to earn a spot in the 16-driver Chase field to even be among the title discussion by the time the series heads back to the South Florida track to race. And time's running out. Only two chances remain to grab one of the playoff spots -- this week at Darlingon and next week at Richmond. Because Larson is not currently ranked among the top-16 in the points standings, his only chance of earning a Chase berth is winning a race and making his first career trip to a Sprint Cup Victory Lane. It's crunch time, and Larson knows it. "We know we have to win," Larson said. "And still right now, we have to find some more speed to compete for a win. We've been close a couple times this year just based on strategies. "It could happen even with just two races left. We tested at Richmond earlier in the year and it went well. I always run just outside top-10 at Richmond and I thought I learned a lot (at the test). So we've got good stuff for Richmond, and Darlington is a track I like a lot." Having his season's fate decided in such dramatic fashion wasn't exactly what Larson or others predicted. Larson was widely considered a shoe-in for a title run -- at least a playoff berth -- after an impressive rookie season. A natural talent from the same kind of open-wheel background as three-time Cup champ Tony Stewart and four-time champ Jeff Gordon , Larson has emerged as one of the sport's new young headliners and is widely regarded as future championship material. Now the 23-year-old must seal the deal. "I'm definitely surprised it's come down to this," Larson said while waiting out a rain delay last week at Homestead. "The way both Jamie (McMurray, CGR teammate) and I ended last year, we thought we'd be a contender this year. "We've been fast but just haven't had any luck at all this year and that's been really frustrating. When we have speed in the cars we run in top-10. At Bristol, for example, we blew two front tires. Last year we'd run way worse but have better finishes." WATCH: Rough night for Larson at Bristol There's no denying it's been a no-luck, hard-knock kind of season despite the team's best efforts. While Chip Ganassi Racing 's other Chevrolet driven by McMurray is in promising position to earn a Chase position based on points, it's been a tough road for the team's second-year driver. Larson's third place at Dover in May is his best finish of the season and only top-five showing after a rookie year when he was regularly mixing it up at the front of the field, posting five top-three finishes, including three runner-ups. He's had only two top-10s in the No. 42 Target Chevrolet since Dover this spring, and his four DNFs equal the number he had all of last year. But there is encouraging news to consider, and Larson has not conceded a thing. His No. 42 Chevrolet was easily one of the best cars in the Chase last year with six top-10 finishes in the final 10 races, including a streak of five consecutive as the postseason kicked in. MORE: Larson's Darlington 'Days of Thunder' throwback scheme Should Larson earn a playoff chance, he feels the team should be strong down the stretch. "Last year I thought we were running better at this point in the season than we are now," Larson said. "But a lot of the tracks in the Chase I really enjoy running at and I think that's part of why we had success in the Chase. "I think we'll be good again this year in the Chase. It's just right now, we're not in it." He added quickly: "That could change." MORE: Who's most likely to win way into Chase?
Dylan Kwasniewski will also get behind wheel of No. 42 Team owners Chip Ganassi and Harry Scott Jr. announced a formal merger of their partnership in the NASCAR XFINITY Series on Thursday, forging a single-car team under the new name of HScott Motorsports with Chip Ganassi for 2015. The team announced that Kyle Larson , the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year, and NASCAR Next alumnus Dylan Kwasniewski will be among the drivers of the No. 42 Chevrolet. Mike Shiplett -- who has worked as a crew chief and car chief for Richard Petty Motorsports , Turner Scott Motorsports and Gillett Evernham Motorsports -- will be the team's crew chief. Larson, 22, scored two wins for the team last season under its former Turner Scott Motorsports umbrella, breaking through at Auto Club Speedway in his home state of California for his first victory in the Nationwide Series, which will be backed by XFINITY in 2015. Larson prevailed again at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. Kwasniewski competed in a full rookie season on the Nationwide Series circuit last year, driving 28 of 33 races in Turner Scott's No. 31 Chevy and the rest in the No. 42. The 19-year-old Las Vegas native won the pole position for the season opener at Daytona International Speedway and wound up 11th in the final 2014 standings. Ganassi , a former IndyCar driver who became a team owner in the premier NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2001, fielded teams in what is now the XFINITY Series from 2004-08, netting six wins among four drivers -- Reed Sorenson , Jamie McMurray , Casey Mears and Juan Pablo Montoya . The team will operate out of the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates race shop in Concord, North Carolina. Scott also announced a partnership with road racer Justin Marks for a four-car operation in the developmental NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks will field entries for returning driver Scott Heckert and three rookie contenders -- William Byron, 17; J.J. Haley, 15; and Dalton Sargeant, 16. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Rookie Larson, veteran McMurray aim to help Ganassi regroup
Dylan Kwasniewski and Chip Ganassi Racing sign development deal at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates organization's Christmas card sent out last month was a keeper. Lining up for a group photo were drivers Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Juan Montoya, Jamie McMurray -- and team owner Chip Ganassi . Grand-Am Road Racing got one of those cards. On Tuesday, Grand-Am - and its fans -- got a belated Christmas gift from Ganassi's group, in the form of a star-studded lineup for the upcoming Rolex 24 at Daytona (Jan. 29-30), one encompassing two cars, eight drivers, three racing disciplines and a return appearance by McMurray, the reigning Daytona 500 champion. Pruett and Rojas, the reigning Rolex Series Daytona Prototype co-champions, will be joined in the No. 01 Target/Telmex BMW/Riley prototype by Grand-Am veteran Joey Hand and Graham Rahal, the latter recently announced as a new Ganassi driver in the IndyCar Series. In the No. 02 Telmex/Target BMW/Riley, last year's Daytona team returns intact: McMurray, two-time Rolex 24 champion Montoya and two IndyCar vets -- two-time series titlist Dixon and the series' reigning champ, Franchitti. Collectively, those two teams have won 12 series championships, eight Rolex 24s, one Daytona 500 and four Indianapolis 500s. Happy Holidays indeed, belated or not. Ganassi clearly is pulling out all the stops to get a fast start on the 2011 season -- and a fast follow-up to a memorable 2010. Last season arguably was the greatest by any race car owner in any series: Pruett and Rojas dominated the Grand-Am Rolex Series season en route to winning the DP championship for a second time; McMurray won the marquee event in the Sprint Cup Series, plus the Brickyard 400; and Franchitti won the Indy 500 for a second time and the IndyCar series title for a third time. "The Rolex 24 at Daytona is always exciting for our team, especially because it involves so many of our drivers from all different series," Ganassi said. "There are so many elements out of the drivers' hands that need to come together, in order to have a shot at winning this event. That's what I love about it. You have to not only be good, but you also have to have a little bit of luck on your side to succeed in a race that lasts 24 hours." Ganassi's No. 02 DP team dominated the race's first eight hours last year before mechanical problems forced an early retirement of the car. Pruett and Rojas went on to finish second, teamed with two other drivers. McMurray was involved in a recent test session at Daytona International Speedway; both NASCAR stock cars and Grand-Am sports cars turned laps on the new DIS pavement for the first time. "They did a really nice job with the paving project, so I expect the racing to be really good for the 24-hour race," McMurray said. "I'm certain that we'll bring good cars for the race, as Chip and his Grand-Am guys do each and every year. It's great to have the opportunity to once again drive for Chip in one of the most prestigious motorsports events out there." Testing for the Rolex 24 at Daytona -- the Roar Before the Rolex 24 -- is Friday-Sunday at Daytona. The 49th running of the endurance classic is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 29.