Things were looking great for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing driver Juan Pablo Montoya. He appeared to be finding some consistency over NASCAR’s summer stretch and was creeping towards the top 20 in points. But, the Colombian driver saw not only his best race of the season slip away Sunday, but a majority of the remaining hope to capture the competitive wild card spot in The Chase for The Sprint Cup.
Montoya’s race got off to a confrontational start after contact with Kyle Busch in the hairpin. After being shuffled back, Montoya was able to regain the sort of composure which makes him lethal on road courses. Aggressive, hard charging, and ruthless, Montoya found himself in second place only to see it fall away.
It seemed almost symbolic. Close, but no Cuban cigar. Since the merger with the fledgling Earnhardt Incorporated, Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates have attempted to replicate the success they have found in the IZOD IndyCar Series and Rolex Grand-AM Sports Car Series.
Yet, despite being on the cusp of the elite teams such as Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Racing, and Joe Gibbs Racing, Earnhardt-Ganassi once again fell short. And despite running out of gas not being a team issue, it feels very representative of Montoya and teammate Jamie McMurray’s performance under the generation six car.
Now 23rd in the Championship standings, it certainly appears Montoya will need two or more wins to capture the elusive wild card spot. With the Brickyard 400 still eluding Montoya, to win again at The Indianapolis Motor Speedway would be more than just a sentimental moment. It would give the team more momentum leading up to the second road course race at Watkins Glen International.
There is still a glimmer of hope for Juan Pablo Montoya and Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, but the door is closing while the windows are slammed shut thanks to victories by Tony Stewart and Martin Truex Jr. But with a dwindling number of races remaining, don’t count out Montoya, McMurray, or the team just quite yet.
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