Felix Sabates retires from ownership of Chip Ganassi Racing

Felix Sabates, age 74, will retire from minority ownership of the NASCAR team Chip Ganassi Racing, CGR announced Wednesday. Sabates has been a NASCAR team owner since the 1980s.

“Where do you even begin to describe Felix Sabates? He’s done so much for the sport of racing,” Chip Ganassi said. "I teamed up with him almost 20 years ago, and he’s been a great business partner and an even better friend. In that time, the only thing we’ve had an argument over was who was picking up the tab at dinner. Felix helped me develop as an owner, as well as an individual. His track record in this sport certainly sets the bar high for anyone that follows. I’m proud to call him a friend and wish him all the best.”

Sabates formed SABCO Racing in 1987. In 2001, he sold a majority stake in the team to Chip Ganassi, and as a result, the team was renamed Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. A few years ago, Sabates sold 80 percent of his remaining stake in the team to Rob Kauffman and Sabates' name was dropped from the team name. Since its days as SABCO Racing, the team now known as Chip Ganassi Racing has competed in both the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity series levels and won in both series. As SABCO, the team won seven Cup Series races, six with driver Kyle Petty and another with Joe Nemechek. As some form of Chip Ganassi Racing, 13 more Cup Series wins have been added with drivers including Sterling Marlin, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kyle Larson and Kurt Busch.

Both of the team's current Cup Series drivers, Busch and Larson, won a race in 2019 and made the series playoffs. Larson advanced to the round of eight, highest of any driver in CGR history.

“I look back to the 1980s when I first started in this sport, and I can tell you that the landscape has really changed,” Sabates said. "It’s been challenging at times and tremendously rewarding watching the sport grow. When I started the NASCAR team, it was just a different time —a smaller regional sport. Then, NASCAR grew and grew into a big business and continued to grow after my partnership with Chip. I’m proud of what I’ve done over the last 30 years. I have friendships that will last a lifetime. I hope that what I have tried to give back to the sport, whether it be bringing NASCAR to Mexico or being instrumental in starting the sports car program with Chip, will be equal to what the sport has taught and given me. I’ve always said that I never wanted to be an old man walking around at the track; this is my way of honoring that commitment I made to myself years ago. I wish Chip and his teams all the success in the world and will be keeping a close eye on the sport from afar and maybe even make an appearance from time to time.”

Sabates and Ganassi also have 64 race wins and seven championships in IMSA.

Health problems have plagued Sabates in recent years. He spent multiple weeks in a coma a few years ago and has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure.