Dario Franchitti's Team Closes Due To Struggles, Lack of Sponsorship

Jen PrestonSenior Analyst IJuly 1, 2008

Dario Franchitti is no longer the driver of the No. 40 Dodge for Chip Ganassi Racing.  In fact, reports are saying that team doesn't even exist anymore.

Owner Chip Ganassi told the Associated Press he saw no reason to continue to run the team out of his own pocket.  Jayski is now reporting that over 70 employees have been laid off because of the closing.

This season has been full of disappointments for the 2007 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series Champion.  Franchitti has run in 10 of 17 races this season, missing five because of a broken ankle but two because he failed to qualify.  His highest finish was a 22nd in Martinsville and he has an average finish of 34th.

The lack of sponsorship was a major contributor in the shut down of the team.  Coors Light departed last year, and while Target and Guitar Hero have been on the car, a full-time sponsor was never secured.

Franchitti was 41st in Owners Points.

Ganassi hopes that his driver, who he said was "disappointed", will continue to drive the team's Nationwide car until the Cup effort is reconstructed.

Franchitti is not the only open-wheeler to struggle with the transition to NASCAR. 

While teammate Juan Pablo Montoya has won a race (Sonoma-2007), he's yet to win in 2008 and only has two top-10s. 

Penske Racing's Sam Hornish Jr., who made the transition this year along with Franchitti, is yet to score his first top-five or top-ten in the series. 

Former Formula One Champion Jacques Villeneuve only made two races last year before being let go by Bill Davis and that team, the number 27 Toyota, being shut down.

Paul Tracy has made a couple of lackluster attempts in the Nationwide and Truck Series.

Dario Franchitti was part of Ganassi's winning team in this year's Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona with Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, and Montoya.  He has 13 wins in his 10 years in IndyCar and CART. Last year he edged out Ganassi driver Scott Dixon for his first championship as a driver for Andretti-Green Racing.