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Volume 26 No. 225
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MWR's Kauffman Close To Purchasing Sabates' Stake In Ganassi

Michael Waltrip Racing principal Owner Rob Kauffman is close to purchasing Felix Sabates’ stake in Chip Ganassi Racing, according to multiple industry sources, which would cause Kauffman to drop his affiliation with MWR if the sale is completed. Kauffman, who has been with MWR for eight years, would take on Sabates’ minority stake in the team, while CGR principal Owner Chip Ganassi would continue to retain majority control, according to sources. It is unclear if Sabates will hold onto a small stake to retain his affiliation with the team or if he will be dropping the affiliation entirely.

Sources said that Kauffman would take one of the two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entries at MWR – the No. 15 Toyota driven by Clint Bowyer – with him to CGR. Because MWR's sponsors, including 5-Hour Energy, Aaron’s, Peak, AAA and Maxwell House, have yet to determine their next move, it is unclear whether the operation, which also has the No. 55 currently driven by David Ragan, would form an alliance or merge with another team, or pursue some other option. CGR execs had no comment; MWR did not respond to e-mails by presstime.

Ganassi Racing currently has two Sprint Cup entries – the No. 1 Chevrolet driven by Jamie McMurray and the No. 42 Chevy driven by Kyle Larson. McMurray is currently ninth in the Sprint Cup standings, while Larson is 20th. For MWR, Bowyer is currently 15th in the standings and on the bubble for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, while a combination of drivers have left the No. 55 entry 28th among car owner standings. The combined three-car entity will remain with Chevrolet, which is the current supplier to CGR in the Sprint Cup Series. Kauffman also is chair of the Race Team Alliance, which was founded last year. Whether his role with the RTA will be affected is unclear.