Jared C. Tilton, Getty
One of the major consequences of the corporatization of NASCAR race teams was the creation and entrenchment of technical alliances in which certain race teams rely on others for parts and information, including everything from engines to chassis. While such alliances have been to the competitive benefit of certain teams in the Cup Series, there are also times where they can be very detrimental to a race team’s performance — Such as what was experienced last week by Chip Ganassi Racing.
While Hendrick Motorsports cars dominated the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Chip Ganassi Racing — which has a technical alliance with Hendrick — saw both of its cars have major issues with Hendrick-built engines. First, Ross Chastain was forced to the garage after the belt on his engine’s oil pump broke, putting him 41 laps down by race’s end. Then, Kurt Busch went to the garage after losing oil pressure and power steering before the engine failed entirely upon his return to the track. Busch was the only car not to finish the 600, while Chastain was the last car running.
Ganassi’s problems led Hendrick Motorsports general manager Jeff Andrews to issue a mea culpa, stating during an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the team accepted responsibility and were contrite over the Ganassi car’s problems.
“We’ve made some corrections there. I do have to say that those are some of the toughest nights of all when you affect a great partner like we have in Chip Ganassi Racing and all their employees. We owe a big apology to them, because we let them down in a big, big way with both of their cars over there the other night,” Andrews said. “There are some corrections we’ve made to the issues that we’ve had there with the front drive system, and really just got exposed in that particular situation, in that environment.
“We’ve made adjustments there and we’re moving forward and working closely with those guys and staying in touch with them on exactly what happened. But that was 100% on us. That had nothing to do with anything in their race cars, or particularly to their teams or vehicles. That was 100% on our group there. We own that one, so we’ll get fixed and do a better job for them. We owe them a lot better than what we did over there Sunday night for them.”
Beyond the four cars it fields under their own banner, Hendrick Motorsports also supplies engines to Ganassi as well as the two JTG Daugherty Racing cars driven by Ryan Preece and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Despite the issues experienced by Ganassi, none of the other Hendrick-powered cars suffered engine issues during last week’s race — Particularly not Hendrick themselves, as they yet again placed all four of their cars in the top 5.