Earnhardt Ganassi Racing has suspended the operation of its #8 car driven by Aric Almirola in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.
Steve Lauletta, the team's president, has confirmed that the third car will not be entered in any further races due to lack of sponsorship.
"We have suspended operation on the #8 today," said Lauletta. "Things like this are never easy to do but from the start of the season we knew this was a possibility. We are continuing to seek sponsorship for Aric and the car, and hope to have it back on the track as soon as we can."
Almirola started the season hoping some backing could be found to get him beyond the first few races, but results have not been good for the Tampa-native, who kicked off the year with his entry inside the top 35 in the owners' standing but has dropped to 37th and is not guaranteed a start in the next event.
In June of last year, Chip Ganassi Racing shut down the operation of their #40 car, which was driven at the time by Dario Franchitti. A number of employees were laid off as a consequence and the team cited lack of sponsorship as the reason for the closure. Despite some hope of putting the operation back together, neither Franchitti nor the team competed again.
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing was initially expected to have at least four cars this year, following the merger of Chip Ganassi Racing and DEI, but the team dropped Regan Smith's #01 car as well as the #41 and has fielded three cars since the season started.
Given the suspension of Almirola's operation, the team is now set to focus its effort on the cars of Juan Pablo Montoya and Martin Truex Jr., who rank 13th and 28th in the championship respectively.
Last year, Almirola competed in 12 races for Dale Earnhardt Inc., sharing his drive with veteran Mark Martin and scoring one top 10 finish. During 2007, he entered six races for Ginn Racing, before the team merged with DEI.
This season his best result has been a 21st place at Atlanta, while all his other finishes have been of 30th or worse.