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Ganassi moves sports car program to Ford

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LAS VEGAS (AP) - Chip Ganassi is making another manufacturer switch, taking his sports car program to Ford to run the new EcoBoost engine package next year.

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The move announced Tuesday at the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association show comes on the heels of Ganassi's switch last month from Honda to Chevrolet in the IndyCar Series.

Chip Ganassi Racing is the most successful team in Daytona Prototype history and won its seventh DP team championship this season. It has used BMW engines the last four seasons, but will make the switch to Ford in time for the start of the unified TUDOR United SportsCar Championship series.

''We are very excited to be switching to Ford power for our sports car program,'' Ganassi said. ''Over the last 10 seasons we have been able to experience a great deal of success in GRAND-AM and now with the dawn of the new United SportsCar Championship, we feel that Ford power will be a key ingredient to writing the next chapter of our sports car program.''

The move to Ford marks a return to the blue oval for Ganassi lead driver Scott Pruett. He started with Ford in 1985 and was signed as a full-time factory driver the next season. Pruett won four IMSA and SCCA Trans-Am championships in three years before moving to IndyCar racing.

Both of Pruett's IndyCar wins came with Ford and his one full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was with Ford.

''Coming back to Ford is the perfect way to bookend my career,'' said Pruett. ''To be honest, without Ford, there is no Scott Pruett. Ford gave me the chance to drive my first real race car - the front-engine Mustang GTP in 1983 - and then they were willing to take a chance on me when no one else did in 1985 and 1986.''

Pruett, winner of 59 major sports car events and a record five Rolex 24 At Daytona wins, will again team with Memo Rojas to pilot the Telcel/TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates entry. Pruett and Rojas have won 27 races since 2007.

''Partnering with Chip and his championship-caliber organization in this new sports car series is a critical ingredient to our Ford EcoBoost program in USCC,'' said Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing.

Ford debuted its new EcoBoost DP engine at Daytona in September, when Colin Braun drove the 3.5-liter V6 twin-turbo-powered Michael Shank Racing Riley to a track record of 222.971 mph. Ford representatives had been searching for additional teams for 2014 to join Shank, but Ganassi could have also moved to Chevrolet and run Corvette DPs in 2014.

He is partnered with Chevrolet in NASCAR, and will be with Chevy next season in IndyCar.

Ford EcoBoost branding has appeared on various Ford race cars around the world the past two seasons as part of a strategy to raise brand awareness of the growing Ford line of production engines, which are now available in 1.0-liter, 1.5-liter, 1.6-liter, 2.0-liter and 3.5-liter versions.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
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