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Ginn looking to be a bigger player in Nextel Cup

Team looking at big names but most focus placed on own development drivers.

By BRANT JAMES
Published June 24, 2007


. FAST FACTS

Nextel Cup point standings

Driver Pts Back

Jeff Gordon 2392 -

Denny Hamlin 2128 264

Jimmie Johnson 2055 337

Matt Kenseth 2044 348

Jeff Burton 1919 473

Carl Edwards 1905 487

Tony Stewart 1903 489

Kevin Harvick 1794 598

Clint Bowyer 1774 618

Martin Truex 1772 620

Kyle Busch 1763 629

Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1691 701

Bobby Ginn looked a lot like a man in a hurry when he bought an 80 percent interest in MB2 Motorsports last summer. Aiming to make the team a contender in five years, he lured heralded veteran Mark Martin aboard to hasten the process. Ginn Racing made a bold bid to sign Dale Earnhardt Jr. but failed. With 22-year-old star Kyle Busch now on the market, one might think Ginn, a Florida-based developer, would peel checks in increasing increments until a deal was done. But the 58-year-old sounded much like a man settling in for the long haul, not the big splash, in a conversation Friday morning.

Will you make a play for Kyle Busch?

We haven't made a decision yet. The Junior thing jumped into the mix before all the other shuffling in the "silly season" started so that is kind of calming down now and it's just back to everybody looking at everything and deciding what they're going to do going into '08, so we're falling into that same mode right now.

You had to a take a shot at Junior, just in case?

It kind of just fell into our lap because we had capacity and it was a Chevrolet team. We were just kind of an obvious pick. We got Hendrick (Motorsports) engines. That was a big part of it. But Dale made the decision he should have made.

There's a rumor floating out there that your offer was actually more financially rewarding that Hendrick's.

We never got down to the point of talking about what the compensation splits would be. That never came into any conversations we had. We all understood it wouldn't be inexpensive, but ... he wants to be put in the best position to go out and win as many championships as he can and there's no competition for Rick Hendrick right now.

Do you want to be at four cars for 2008?

I think my realistic car count right now is to run the cars I've got the best sponsorship on and spend my time testing to get to the field.

So that's realistically three?

I think so, but it's going to be what it's going to be. We have the capacity for four and I'd rather have two good ones than two good ones and two mediocre ones. I'd rather spend my time getting caught up.

Has the team established itself enough now to need to make a splash (read: Kyle Busch) to take the next step?

Those are options, but our long-term goal is our development drivers; that's what we're spending most of our time on.

I'm much more interested in winning the race. The big splash to us would be the win, the first one, every one of them. The first one is the most dangerous one because you get that one out of the way and then you're a one-hit wonder.

We need the first one, and then we need to go a long, long way to get the respect of the top teams.

It's almost surprising, considering your play for Junior, that you're not leaping at Kyle Busch.

I'm not saying we're not. I'm just saying we haven't talked to him yet.

What's your pitch for a new driver? Joe Nemechek and Sterling Marlin are veterans in the final year of their contracts, so you're going to need some new drivers relatively soon.

One, I take him to the shop. I take him to where the people are that build the equipment. The first thing any veteran driver wants to know is (that) he's going to a team that's going to give him the equipment. That's where I start. When you walk through and see what our plans are, that's what I'm selling. That's all I have to sell. I'm not in a position that Gibbs or Hendrick or Roush is in. What I have to sell is we have the equipment to do it. The better we do on the track obviously makes it better. To see what Mark has done this year has opened the eyes of a lot of drivers.

Is selling someone on your race team any different than selling them a resort property?

Consumer confidence is all-important to the business that we are in. It's all important to a driver that wants to come drive. Nobody wants to make a change and step down. I think people in all businesses are the same, they want to be with people who can win.

Fast Facts:

 

Today's Cup race

Toyota/Save Mart 350, 5 p.m., Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, Calif. TV/radio: TNT; 1010-AM