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Monday, July 2, 2007
Ganassi: NASCAR move not on Wheldon's radar screen

By Marty Smith
ESPN.com

NASCAR and IndyCar team owner Chip Ganassi doesn't foresee open wheel star Dan Wheldon moving to stock cars anytime soon.

"I personally don't see it on his radar screen [for] next year," Ganassi told ESPN.com Monday.

Ganassi did say he and Wheldon discussed the proposition several months back, but discontinued those talks with the plan to resume them later in the summer. They've yet to do so, Ganassi said.

"Having said that, we've had discussions along the lines of 'Hey, let's renew our deal,' and there's some other opportunities within the team for him," Ganassi said. "To be honest, I don't see [NASCAR] as one of the top-five things I'm conversing with him about.

"I do not consider [a move] imminent."

Ganassi said Wheldon's true interest presently is winning a second IndyCar championship. Wheldon won the 2005 crown, then surrendered last season's title to Sam Hornish Jr. by way of a tiebreaker. The drivers finished with an equal number of championship points, but by rule Hornish was awarded the title due to having scored more victories during the year.

Wheldon recently expressed interest in NASCAR. In fact, he was especially intrigued by that which deters many open-wheel drivers from jumping to stock cars -- the lengthy schedule.

In 2007, the IndyCar slate has less than half the races that NASCAR's Cup Series runs -- 17 compared to 36.

Ganassi also said Monday he thinks the interest in NASCAR from open-wheel drivers is waning, if not over.

"I think it's kind of over, if you want my honest opinion," Ganassi said. "I think all race car drivers, whether they're open-wheel drivers or what, realize it's not just getting into a car and driving it. It's so much about the team you're with, and the people.

"It's so much more than just coming over from one series to another. It's about your entrance exam and your warm up program -- are you going to Busch, an [ARCA, Busch Series, Cup] program? Do you step right into the car? All those things. I think a swell of interest in terms of other drivers is over. I think it's, maybe, six months over."

Marty Smith covers motorsports for ESPN.com.