Written by: Mike Hembree
Date: 11/30/2011 - 02:54 PM
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray will be far removed from NASCAR’s celebratory goings-on this week in Las Vegas.
As the sport’s top 12 drivers are saluted with a variety of activities Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Montoya and McMurray will be on the outside looking in.
If recent moves at EGR are an indication, there is a major movement afoot to change that situation for future seasons.
Competition director Steve Hmiel and team manager Tony Glover, both long-time roamers of NASCAR pit roads and key players at EGR for years, are no longer with the organization, underlining a profound change in approach for one of Sprint Cup’s potential impact teams.
Through 13 NASCAR seasons, team owner Chip Ganassi has not been able to duplicate the spectacular success he has had in IndyCar and sports car racing. The team has had peaks of brilliance (for example, McMurray’s victories at Daytona and Indianapolis in 2010), but it has not been able to sustain season-long excellence across multiple years.
In 2010, Ganassi became the first team owner to win the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400 and the Indianapolis 500 in the same season, obviously a signal accomplishment. McMurray won three Cup races that season, and Montoya added one.
But this season saw Montoya and McMurray struggle. Neither won a race. Both had only two top fives, and McMurray, a star of the big tracks last year, had only four top 10s.
They were seldom topics of conversation when it came time to decide races.
Montoya finished 21st in points, and McMurray was 27th, significant drops from their performances of 2010 (McMurray 14th and Montoya 17th).
Earlier, Ganassi announced a significant competitive move with the arrival of Chris Heroy as Montoya’s new crew for 2012. A highly regarded engineer at Hendrick Motorsports, Heroy replaced Jim Pohlman, who had been Montoya’s crew chief on an interim basis.
"I`m too lazy to work my real job. I love what I do." Tony Stewart