NASCAR’s silly season begins at various times, but has now officially begun its perpetual slide towards insanity. Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing does not speak about contracts to the media, but sources confirmed to the AP’s Jenna Fryer Juan Pablo Montoya will not be back in the car for 2014. It is unclear who will replace Montoya at this point, and if he will land back in the Sprint Cup Series to compete in an eighth full-time season.
Montoya arrived in NASCAR from Formula One after an unceremonious departure from McLaren Mercedes to much fanfare, but his inconsistencies and overaggressive nature struck a bad chord with a majority of fans. Despite good equipment and even better talent, Montoya only reached victory lane once.
This does not necessarily end a relationship with Chip Ganassi that began in CART in 1999 and reached its peak in an Indianapolis 500 victory in 2000. Montoya may run in the newly-united USCR, which has a contract with Fox Sports One and a dominant Prototype class team owned by Chip Ganassi.
More than likely, this means NASCAR Nationwide Series rookie Kyle Larson will be rushed into the Sprint Cup Series. Larson has been a development driver for Ganassi since the start of the 2012 season, and would move from Turner-Scott Motorsports after only one year.
Another option is free agent Ryan Newman, who will not be renewed by Stewart-Haas Racing despite speculation that the team will expand to a four-car operation. “I am in a situation where the phone has not rung off the hook with sponsors, or car owners, or manufacturers or any of that,” Newman told Nate Ryan of USA Today.
No matter what happens, this certainly signifies the beginning of NASCAR’s annual silly season, so the news and speculation will be running rampant from now until the end of the season for sure.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486