Earnhardt Ganassi Racing could still switch to Toyota for 2010, even though the Japanese car manufacturer is not looking at expanding its current roster of NASCAR Sprint Cup teams.
Speaking at Texas Motor Speedway, Toyota Racing Development president Lee White (pictured) addressed rumors suggesting Earnhardt Ganassi Racing could switch to the Japanese manufacturer next year. While admitting they have discussed a possible association with Chip Ganassi, White said it has been natural for them to do so, having worked together in Champ Car and IndyCar between 2000 and 2005. Ganassi currently races the Lexus brand for Toyota in Grand-Am.
"We've had discussions with a lot of people," White said. "As everyone knows, we have a long relationship with Chip, all the way back to 2000, so it's almost 10 years as partners in motorsports. At this point, there's nothing decided. And, yes, we've had discussions with Chip, but we've had discussions with a lot of people."
When asked for his opinion on Ganassi's 2009 season in its first year with Chevrolet, he admitted to being impressed by Montoya's run during the Chase for the Sprint Cup series title. He said it was "very impressive, considering how new Juan is to NASCAR racing." However, White said Toyota is not looking at expanding the number of teams it is currently supporting in Sprint Cup.
"We are not pursuing other teams," said White. "But obviously the NASCAR rules state that if any teams want to run our product, relative to other brands, then it's our obligation and our commitment to NASCAR to provide the parts and pieces available." Ganassi's team could still make the switch through a technical relationship with a current Toyota squad like Joe Gibbs Racing, something White admitted was possible.
"That's a possibility," said White. "Any team that chose to run the Toyota product would be evaluated on its own merit and then decisions would be made on whether engineering support would be provided to that team from TRD, or whether their relationship would be with a current team, or how it would work out."
While Michael Waltrip Racing and Red Bull get their engines from TRD, JGR builds its own units under the eye of expert builder Mark Cronquist.