The No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team was informed on Tuesday that Juan Pablo Montoya will not be with the team next year.
Despite Montoya’s relationship with both Chip Ganassi and sponsor Target, it was time to cut the cord.
Montoya, 37, never really lived up to the expectations that EGR had for the driver who competed and won in Formula One and Champ Car prior to coming to NASCAR full-time in 2007.
Montoya was apprised of Ganassi’s decision on Monday.
After seven full seasons and just two Sprint Cup wins, Ganassi’s patience had simply ran out. NASCAR is a performance business and Montoya had relied on his open-wheel resume to remain at EGR longer than most drivers would have had the luxury to do so.
Montoya’s two wins in 239 Sprint Cup starts came at Sonoma in 2007 and Watkins Glen in 2010. He qualified for just one Chase in 2009. This season the driver is 22nd in the point standings and posted top five finishes at Richmond, Dover and Watkins Glen on Sunday.
Montoya had seven wins and 30 podium finishes during his tenure in F1. Prior to that he won the 1999 Champ Car title.
Still, EGR’s future remains bright. Last year he signed Kyle Larson, 21, to an eight-year contract. Larson is currently competing for Turner Scott Motorsports in the Nationwide Series. He is currently eighth in the NNS point standings after his engine failed at Watkins Glen on Saturday. He’s posted two top-five finishes including second place finishes at Bristol and Michigan. Larson won his first race in the truck series at Rockingham this spring.
Although Montoya had a solid relationship with Target, Larson is a sponsor’s dream. He’s young, attractive, well-spoken and capable of winning. In seven full seasons on the Cup tour, Montoya only finished better than 17th in the point standings once. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how enamored sponsors are with a driver, they want results.
Jamie McMurray is expected to remain in the No. 1 Chevy for EGR and can help Larson acclimate to the Sprint Cup Series
If EGR elects to the offer its protégé additional time to season, Kurt Busch could fill the void. The 2004 NASCAR champ has not renewed his contract with Furniture Row yet. However, Montoya could be in consideration for Busch’s seat — or the second seat at FRR if that organization elects to expand its operation to two teams.
The option is also there for Montoya to continue on with EGR through its GrandAm program.