Sabates misfires on comments about Sorenson, Texaco

Published 4:14 pm Friday, August 29, 2008

Felix Sabates has never been one to hide his true feelings. Whatever pops into his head comes out of his mouth. In many instances, I admire that characteristic in people. Far too many times, people say what they think others want to hear no matter if that is what they truly believe.Sabates is part owner of the Dodge teams of Chip Ganassi. The official name of the team is Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Currently, the team fields teams for Juan Pablo Montoya and Reed Sorenson. Early this year, the team shut down the No. 40 team of Dario Franchitti, one of the best racecar drivers in the world, due to lack of sponsorship.

Over the past week, however, Sabates’ comments concerning Reed Sorenson and long-time sponsor Texaco Havoline were just plain stupid and reeked of deep down bitterness. Don’t get me wrong; I am a fan of Sabates. He is the epitome of the American dream and has been successful in nearly every endeavor he has ever been involved with.Sorenson announced this week that we would leave the Ganassi/Sabates organization at the end of the year to drive for Gillette Evernham Motorsports next season. Sorenson, 22, has driven in 97 races over the previous three years for Ganassi/Sabates, earning three top-fives and 13 top-10s.

The other Ganassi/Sabates racers have not exactly set the woods on fire over that time period, either. Montoya has posted the company’s only win over that span. In fact, Ganassi has won only eight races over the last eight years with Sterling Marlin collecting half of that total in 2001 and 2002.

Speaking of Sorenson’s departure to Gillette-Evernham, a team that has won 15 races over that same eight-year period, Sabates really threw the young driver under the bus. “I think Reed is today as good as he’s ever going to be. If somebody else wants to put him in a car, fine with us.”

If Sorenson would have remained with Ganassi/Sabates, I agree with Felix. In my view, that team is going nowhere fast, and Montoya would be wise to start checking out other options in the garage.

Relative to Texaco, one of the more identifiable sponsors in the sport over the last 20 years, Sabates was just as unappreciative. Texaco announced the decision to leave NASCAR and allocate marketing money in other areas.

“They (Texaco) have focused on other things. We really didn’t get that much support from them. The money wasn’t all that great, for us, it was a blessing that we can go out and find somebody who can pay us some real money,” Sabates said about Texaco.

Yeah, sure, Felix, I bet there are plenty of sponsors out there waiting to dish out $20 million to see crappy performances every week. Just as successful as this team was at finding a sponsor for Franchitti, one of the most recognizable drivers in the world, it was at finding money for Montoya’s No. 42.

Don’t take anything away from Sabates’ accomplishments on the track and off the track, but he spoke way out of turn in these two instances.

The last Labor Day race at California is Sunday night before moving to Atlanta next week. My pick to win the race and get back on track is Jeff Gordon.

Have a great holiday weekend, and please be careful.