NASCAR Sprint Media Tour. ???? Chip Ganassi Racing


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CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — The kickoff for the annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour was a bit more international than usual, thanks to team owner Chip Ganassi.

Ganassi, who fields three cars in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series and two each in the IRL’s IndyCar Series and the Grand-Am sports car series, brought most of his driver roster to Monday’s event in North Carolina.

That included his 2008 Cup lineup of former open-wheel star Juan Pablo Montoya, last year’s top Cup rookie; Reed Sorenson and NASCAR newcomer Dario Franchitti, last year’s Indy 500 winner and IndyCar champion; IndyCar drivers Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon and rookie Alex Lloyd; sports car racers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas; and 18-year-old development driver Bryan Clauson.

?????????Montoya is from Colombia, Franchitti from Scotland, Dixon from New Zealand, Wheldon and Lloyd from England and Rojas from Mexico. The podium where the drivers sat was backed by flags of all their countries.

«You look up here and see all these different flags,» Ganassi said, «and let me tell you what comes to my mind: winning.

«These guys represent 24 racing wins last season,» he added. «They represent seven championships, three Indianapolis 500 wins, four Rolex 24-hour wins and over 130 trips to Victory Lane. … They’re all here for one simple reason: to win.»

Ganassi said he didn’t purposely set out to put together such an international group.

?????????«When I started racing, I made the commitment to myself and my team that I was going to get the best drivers that were available to our team at any given time, no matter where they come from or whatever the circumstances may be,» he noted.

Ganassi added that he believes the international look of his team is a good thing, and particularly for American auto racing.

«I know a number of NASCAR fans are certainly concerned about the international influx and of open-wheel drivers in general coming into NASCAR,» Ganassi said. «They said it’s bad for the sport. But I can honestly tell you that those NASCAR fans should feel a lot of pride. I think what it’s telling you is that the rest of the world is finding out what we already know, and that is that NASCAR is just darn good racing.»

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