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9336On Tuesday 17 October AutoWeek posted this short blurb on Lexus' American Le Mans Series racing future:
<P>Lexus still alive<BR>
Lexus could yet race in the ALMS with a GT2S class IS 350 next season. It had planned to join the series this season with Chuck Goldsborough’s Team Lexus squad.

<P>The IS 350 never appeared this year, although it was close to a first test when the project faltered. Lexus motorsport boss John Faivre says the company has split with Goldsborough, but the program could resurface for 2007. A decision is due in the next few weeks.

<P>My.IS has reported the rumo(u)red possibility that <A HREF="http://my.is/forums/showthread.php?t=307327">Tom Milner's Prototype Technology Group (PTG), BMW's primary U.S. motorsports research and development team for the BMW M3 since 1995,</A> would take over Team Lexus. There is another possibility, however, that cannot be ignored: Chip Ganassi. Ganassi, along with business partner Félix Sabatés, are surely best known to my.IS readers as the principals in the CompUSA-sponsored team that runs the No. 01 Lexus Riley Grand Am Rolex Series sports car, driven by Scott Pruett and a rotating cast of drivers that has included Max Papis and Luis Díaz.

chip_ganassi1.jpg <P>Make no mistake, though, Ganassi's power, influence and deep pockets cut a much broader swath in motorsports. In a similar manner to the above-mentioned CompUSA sponsorship/co-branding deal, other Chip Ganassi Racing with Félix Sabatés teams are sponsored by Coors Light beer, Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon, Target, Havoline (Texaco) and Discount Tire, and compete in NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series (Dodge) as well as Indy Racing League (Honda Dallara).

<P>A significant recent development at Ganassi Racing was the April resignation of Andy Graves (the first employee hired by car owner Chip Ganassi when he started his NASCAR operation) as team manager. As quoted in <A HREF="http://www.boston.com/sports/other_sports/autoracing/articles/2006/04/18/graves_steps_down_as_ganassi_manager/">an article by Associated Press motorsports writer Jenna Fryer,</A> "Ganassi said, 'I have an extremely high regard for him both professionally and personally and look forward to his continued contributions here at Chip Ganassi Racing.' Ganassi did not indicate what Graves will now do within the company... Graves (replied): ...'I am now just looking forward to the next chapter of my career here at Chip Ganassi Racing.'"

<P><A HREF="http://www.boston.com/sports/other_sports/autoracing/articles/2006/04/22/owner_chip_ganassi_racing_not_in_chaos/">A follow-up article by Ms. Fryer</A> ends with this paragraph: "It's unclear where Graves will end up long. He can stay with Ganassi in a different role, but garage speculation had him moving on to a management role with another team -- perhaps even with Toyota as the Japanese automaker prepares to make its NASCAR debut next season." Or running Team Lexus, perhaps?

<P>We must end this, however, with an important disclaimer: The above is merely informed conjecture and speculation, brought to you by my.IS in the interest of ensuring that our community is fully informed of any and all possibilities in the unfolding saga of the next chapter in the story of Team Lexus.
 

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Chip? Not so much...

Jruhi4,

<P>Dude, I love Chip, and anybody that knows anything about racing knows that Chip gave Toyota a shot (and credibility) in Champ Car when nobody else would, but taking over the 350 program is a long shot at best. First, Chip is heavily tied to the Grand Am Daytona Prototype series (the rival series to ALMS) which is heavily tied to NASCAR. Would Chip jeopardize that relationship just to run the 350? I don't think so.
<P>I think we need to be happy with Juan Pablo Montoya in a Lexus at The 24 Hours of Daytona. That's about all we will get from Chip in addition to his Prototype program.
<P>I have mentioned before, and I will mention again that the 350 failure is the result of greed and a lack of respect for the enthusiast. Before I get flamed, I'm not blaming Chuck exclusively nor am I pointing the finger at Lexus solely. I'm just saying that neither party placed the enthusiast at the center, and this is why this happened. Chip is already doing a lot for Toyota, and he doesn't need to take on a program with this much confusion.
<P>I hope you see this post as a respectful counterpoint. I truly respect your insight and contributions to this Site.

<P>Respectfully,

<P>Revman
 

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Revman said:
I hope you take this post as a respectful counterpoint. I truly respect your insight and contributions to this Site.
Absolutely! :approve: :approve:

<P>With Toyota's penchant for secrecy, educated guesswork is often all we can indulge in prior to new developments. Thank you VERY much for sharing your intelligent insights with us.
 
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