2020 NASCAR team reviews: Chip Ganassi Racing

Nick Bromberg
·3 min read

With the 2020 NASCAR season officially over, it’s time to take a look back at how each team performed over the course of the season. We started our team reviews with JTG-Daugherty Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing and Richard Childress Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports. Now it’s time for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Drivers

Kurt Busch

1 win, 7 top 5s, 19 top 10s, 10th in the standings

Matt Kenseth

1 top 5, 2 top 10s, 28th in the standings

Kyle Larson

1 top 5, 3 top 10s, 34th in the standings

You can’t tell the story of Chip Ganassi Racing in 2020 without starting with Larson’s firing. The star was fired in April after he said the N-word during a virtual race broadcast on NASCAR’s website.

The team suspended Larson after the racial slur and fired him when sponsors Credit One and McDonald’s disassociated themselves from him. Without sponsors willing to sponsor a guy who entered the season as the most desirable pending free agent in NASCAR, CGR went ahead and cut ties with Larson.

Enter Kenseth. The 2003 Cup champ was tabbed to replace Larson and, well, it did not go well. Kenseth had one fewer top 10 than Larson did in 28 more starts. His only top-five finish came at Indianapolis when he finished second and he led 12 laps in that start. He led only one other lap all season. Kenseth had an average finish of 21.4 and crashed out of four of the final 17 races of the season.

Kurt Busch performs a burnout after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
Kurt Busch won at Las Vegas in September. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

At least Busch won a race and made the playoffs.

Busch top-10’ed his way to a playoff berth and then scored a surprise win in the second round of the playoffs when he led 29 laps and won at Las Vegas. Busch took the lead on a restart with 26 laps to go and then held on for two more restarts to beat Matt DiBenedetto to the checkered flag.

Busch’s engine failure at Kansas effectively ended his chances at a title, however. Busch was 38th at Kansas to start the third round of the playoffs and missed out on the final four despite finishing seventh and fifth at Texas and Martinsville.

2020 was the third consecutive season in which Busch has finished in the top 10 in at least 50 percent of his starts. His win at Las Vegas also made it a seventh straight season with a win. Busch has raced full-time in NASCAR for 20 years and has won a race in 17 of those seasons.

Grade: C-

CGR gets a boost because of Busch’s win and playoff berth. But the grade is knocked down because of the disaster that was the No. 42 car. Yeah, Kenseth was thrown into a weird situation replacing a fired driver midseason during a pandemic-impacted year. But getting outrun by lesser teams on a regular basis was definitely not what CGR had in mind when it picked the 2003 champion to finish the season.

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