When looking through the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, things are beginning to reach a sense of normalcy as the series moves onward to the quarter mark of the season.
Near the cutoff for the chase is Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing driver Jamie McMurray, who has had impressive runs after a 2012 that saw both EGR drivers regressing severely. The team has rebounded, with one notable exception, that being McMurray’s teammate Juan Pablo Montoya.
Montoya’s career in NASCAR has been tumultuous to say the least, but despite a backlash against him in his first few years after leaving a successful Formula 1 career for the ovals of America, he showed developmental progress and even qualified for the Chase For The Sprint Cup in 2009.
It seems that season was the closest Montoya will get to elite or championship form at NASCAR’s elite series. Since that season, Montoya’s average finishing position and number of lead lap finishes have only decreased consistently, as McMurray enters somewhat of a revival this season.
Currently, the Joplin, MO native is on the brink of the chase, no thanks to the switch the team made from Richard Childress Racing motors to Hendrick Motorsports motors.
Yet, Montoya struggles. The 37-year-old is in need of an urgent revival for a multitude of reasons, some out of his control. Both McMurray and Montoya have optional contract extensions for 2014, but team owner Chip Ganassi may be forced to part ways with his most loyal driver Montoya.
Rumors were swirling this weekend according to The Sporting News that John Menard would be interested in purchasing Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing’s NASCAR division with the intention of funding his son Paul Menard. Although that scenario is unlikely, Paul Menard is having a breakout year of his own, and could be seeking a more vital role, leaving a Childress team that is in a position of driver fluidity.
Also pressuring Montoya is up-and-coming driver Kyle Larson, who Ganassi has invested an incredible amount of time into. Larson is progressing in both the Nationwide Series as well as the Camping World Truck Series, and his time to step into a Sprint Cup car is coming. Unfortunately for Montoya, unless Ganassi plans to expand his operation, someone will need to be on the way down in the near future.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486