“It certainly wasn’t the first year I’ve had success on one side and not on the other,” said Ganassi, who ordered sweeping organizational changes to his NASCAR operation. He released three top executives, hired industry veteran Max Jones as general manager, chose John Probst as technical director and lured Chris Heroy, a coveted employee at Hendrick Motorsports, to be Montoya’s crew chief.
Ganassi expects early and immediate improvement, and indicated he’s not done shaking things up if the results don’t turn around.
“It was obviously time to make a change and we had to do it, we had to fix it,” Ganassi said. “We took a big swipe at it, and I’m certainly happy with the people that we have now. But if more changes need to be done, we’ll do that as well.”
Nobody doubts he means it.
“He’s the driving force. A lot of the success we have comes from Chip’s determination,” Franchitti said. “He hires the right people and then puts them in the right position and then gets on with it. He doesn’t micromanage. If you win and do well, he’s very appreciative. If you don’t win, he’s not shy, he pushes you to get on with it and pick it up.”
“When I started to drive for him and win the races, I had picked up a big head, you know, think you are the best,” Zanardi said. “It was always clear he gave me a great opportunity, but I also thought I was helping him. I look at him now and realized he changed my life. Yes, we were winning and having great success, and at the time, I didn’t give much credit to Chip for having created all that.
“But it’s his perseverance, his dedication to what he does, he pours everything into his racing … he definitely changed my life completely for the better.”
Ganassi deflected all individual credit on Tuesday.
He instead praised his sales team, which on Tuesday announced partnerships with Banana Boat, Belkin products and LiftMaster garage doors and filled all the primary sponsorship for his two NASCAR teams. Everything is sold to the point that across all Ganassi’s organizations, the IndyCar races for Franchitti in Edmonton and China are the only opportunities for a potential new primary sponsor.
Try pinning Ganassi down on what he does to make his organizations successful on the race track and in the business world, and he defers.
“It’s like laying bricks. One brick would be me. Another brick would be Vasser. Another brick would be Zanardi. Another brick was the management team,” he said. “Those are all bricks that you build and one day you look up, you’ve added Montoya, Dixon and Franchitti, suddenly what started out as a brick is now a wall. A strong wall.
“That’s what it’s about. It’s not about me at all. I never drove the cars, I never changed a tire, I never installed the engine or rebuilt anything. I don’t do any of that stuff.”
By James A. Lyons
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