Earnhardt Ganassi group ones to watch

Editor’s note: As we get closer to the 2010 season opening Daytona 500 (Feb. 20 on FOX), FOXSports.com takes you along for the ride during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway.

From Monday through Thursday, we will provide an inside look at several NASCAR Sprint Cup teams taking part in the tour, including expert analysis from members of the NASCAR on FOX team.

If you look back at the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, I think you have to say it was a very successful year for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.

Entering the year, the team had a lot of unknowns. Juan Pablo Montoya had been winless since his 2007 rookie year. Jamie McMurray was a late hire to drive that No. 1 team car.

Then that organization came out of the box hot.

They won a total of four Sprint Cup races, including two of NASCAR’s biggest – the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400. The two drivers combined to win seven pole positions. The only negative to their year was that both teams came up short on making the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Now, with a year together under their belt, and based on their performance last year, the sky could be the limit. I think there is a real possibility that the organization could go from neither team making the 2010 Chase to both making it in 2011.

Both teams know this, but they have to work on being more consistent week in and week out. You can’t, for example, have three good runs and then two bad ones. That inconsistency hurt them last year, so look for both to try and improve in that area this year.

Of the two, I am really going to be watching Montoya’s team. This will be his fourth season in Sprint Cup racing. He and crew chief Brian Pattie have a year together. Now, Montoya has won two career Cup races, but both were on road courses, which is his forte.

I believe a big goal of theirs in 2011 is to get Montoya in Victory Lane at an oval track.


Inside Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

Team No. 1

Driver: Jamie McMurray (Finished 14th in the 2010 Sprint Cup standings, six career Cup wins)

Crew chief: Kevin Manion

Primary sponsor: Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats


Team No. 42

Driver: Juan Pablo Montoya (Finished 17th in the 2010 Sprint Cup standings, two career Cup wins)

Crew chief: Brian Pattie

Primary sponsor: Target (Check out their 2011 ride)