A few years ago, one could wonder what NASCAR’s future would really look like. Yes, the youth wave was coming and on the crest of the horizon. The sport was going to be in good hands for the future whenever these drivers were needed to step up and be the face of the sport. But, what about the cars that they’d be driving? What about the people owning those said cars?
Now, after the latest developments the year or so, all have fallen into place better than anyone could have really ever expected.
2020 pushed NASCAR forward. 2021 saw NASCAR come out with a new schedule. More road courses. New venues. An emphasis on making all 36 races big events. 2022 sparks the new car, the Next Gen model.
The only other area to question was the ownership model.
See, one could question what the future of Hendrick Motorsports, Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, etc would be. The owners weren’t getting any younger. Now though, the future of these programs are as bright as ever too.
HMS just recently put Jeff Gordon as second in command. Chad Knaus is running the competition side. The future of HMS belongs to them. Penske has Tim Cindric waiting in the wings. JGR has Coy Gibbs. Stewart-Haas has Tony Stewart. Now, you get this mixed with the influx of new teams forming and you can see why the future of NASCAR shouldn’t be a concern.
Brad Keselowski is going to buy into Roush Fenway Racing. Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan teamed up to start 23XI Racing, a branch off of JGR. Justin Marks and Pitbull started Trackhouse Racing for this season and now have bought out CGR and will have a two car team for 2022.
Just look at those names.
Matt Tifft and BJ McLeod started Live Fast and now you get Kaulig Racing and GMS Racing coming up too.
The future is now. I mean, Marks, Pitbull and Ty Norris bought a team that wasn’t even for sale. Think about that.
Trackhouse tried three times to get multiple charters. Each time failed. Then, Marks thought about something. Why not target the older owners. Maybe someone would want to be bought out.
Ganassi, knew that he didn’t want to do this another 10 years and never thought about the long term future. His buddy Marks made a call and later an offer Ganassi couldn’t refuse.
“I told Ty (Norris) let’s not lose sight of where there might be charters or business opportunities for Trackhouse where nobody is looking,” Marks said. “A lot of these owners are toward the end of their careers, and I was just thinking, maybe there’s somebody out there that is ready to make a change, is ready to step away or ready to move on and focus on other things.”
Now, they pulled it off.
Trackhouse has acquired not one, but both of Chip Ganassi Racing’s charters as well as his entire team. Ganassi, is getting out of NASCAR and Trackhouse is taking over. Daniel Suarez will remain with the team in 1 car while it’s still TBA who will drive the other.
“My NASCAR team was not for sale,” Ganassi said on Wednesday. “Justin (Marks) simply came to me with a great offer and an even better vision. As everyone knows, I care deeply for my employees so selling to someone like Justin who is part of the CGR family make the reality of selling much easier.
“I’m not leaving motor racing. Instead of being in a NASCAR race, I’ll be at a sports car race or an IndyCar race or Extreme E race or something. I’m still in racing. There’s a lot of other racing out there.”
Ganassi, said that the conversation reminded him of one two decades ago. That’s why it was so appealing.
“At first, it surprised me a little bit, but I have to say that – after thinking about it for a while – it very much reminded me of about 20 years ago, when I was talking to Felix Sabates about getting involved in NASCAR. I felt like there’s a lot of young, energetic thought being put into what Justin was saying,” Ganassi continued.
“With all the new blood that seems to be coming into the sport now, with Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin and maybe [Brad] Keselowski, and Tony Stewart has his team, Jeff Gordon’s back involved… all these sorts of things.
“The sport is great for some new young blood. We talk about a new generation of drivers and I think you’re going to see a new generation of owners now. I think it’s a great thing for the sport.”
It is great. You have Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Matt Tifft, Justin Marks etc all as former or current drivers buying back into the sport. You get names like Pitbull and Michael Jordan investing into teams. There’s more interested in joining them.
Throw in drivers like Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, William Byron, Alex Bowman, Cole Custer, Chase Briscoe, Christopher Bell, Austin Dillon, Bubba Wallace, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Tyler Reddick, Chris Buescher already here.
You have veterans still in place like Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Keselowski still around.
You then have plenty of younger talent in the Xfinity Series as well as the Truck Series ready to keep moving up. Names like Austin Cindric, Justin Haley, Noah Gragson, Harrison Burton, Ty Gibbs, Myatt Snider or even John Hunter Nemechek, Zane Smith, Sheldon Creed, Todd Gilliland, Chandler Smith, Carson Hocevar ready in Trucks.
The foundation is on solid ground and the future is as bright as ever as a result.