Ganassi not picking up contract option on Stremme

RICHMOND, Va. -- Chip Ganassi, reached by phone Friday, confirmed that his Nextel Cup organization did not pick up the option on
David Stremme's contract to drive the No. 40 Dodge in 2008.

Stremme is free to explore other options, but the door is still open for him to return to Ganassi.

"First of all, we had an option on Stremme and I have no sponsor," Ganassi said. "When they say Coors isn't coming back -- would you sign Stremme without a sponsor? That's all I told him. I can't sign you here without a sponsor.

"Is he free to look elsewhere? Yes. I hope he stays with us. I hope we find something and he stays right here."

Ganassi chose not to comment on speculation that open-wheel star
Dario Franchitti would replace Stremme. Sources close to the team say a deal is in the works to bring Franchitti, winner of the 2007 Indianapolis 500, to NASCAR.

Ganassi, though, said he's still actively seeking sponsorship for Stremme.

"I was talking about another deal [for] him not an hour ago," Ganassi said.

Marty Smith is a contributor to ESPN's NASCAR coverage. He can be reached at ESPNsider@aol.com.