Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and Dale Earnhardt Inc. have entered discussions that could lead to a merger between the two organisations, reported Tuesday.

Such a union would bring together the #41 and #42 cars of Ganassi and the #1 and #8 cars of DEI, according to the report.

Juan Pablo Montoya drives the #42 car, but Ganassi has not named a driver for the #41 Target car. Martin Truex Jr. is the driver of the #1 Bass Pro Shops car, and Aric Almirola drives the #8, which has not named a sponsor for next year.

One of Montoya's current sponsors, Texaco Havoline, will not return to the car next year, but Ganassi has a partial sponsorship locked in with Wrigley's for the #42.

In a conference call with the media Tuesday afternoon, Montoya said he was unaware of the merger talks.

"I'll tell you, I haven't really talked to Chip too much the last few days," Montoya said. "I haven't even asked him who's driving the other car (#41). Right now, our focus is trying to make sure we run better. At the end of the day, it's very important to make sure we've got a good team-mate.

"That's more up to Chip than myself. I think, as long as I do my part, I'm pretty happy. We need to make sure the whole company runs a little better. It'll be a matter of time to see what comes out. Merger, no merger...I don't know. I just drive the car."

That the two organisations are aligned with different manufacturers is a complication. DEI runs Chevrolets and maintains an engine alliance - Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies - with Richard Childress Racing, which also is in the Chevy camp.

Ganassi has a contract with Dodge that runs through 2010. According to the report, the expectation would be for the newly formed team to move to Chevrolet, if details can be worked out with both manufacturers.

General Motors, which produces the Chevrolet brand, and Dodge majority owner Cerberus Capital also have explored the possibility of a merger between the automakers.

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News



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