Chip Ganassi pulled no punches Tuesday, calling his team’s 2011 performance “pathetic.”
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing driver Juan Pablo Montoya finished a disappointing 21st in Sprint Cup Series point last year, with only two Top-5 finishes in 36 starts. Teammate Jamie McMurray fared even worse. After winning three of the circuit’s most prestigious races the previous season, McMurray floundered badly in 2011, recording only two Top-10 finishes en route to 27th in points.
That kind of performance is far below Ganassi’s usual standards. On the second day of the annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour, the veteran NASCAR and IZOD IndyCar team owner called last season "pathetic for a team of our ability and our resources." The team made a number of major personnel moves during the offseason, firing longtime Competition Director Steve Hmiel and team manager Tony Glover in late November. Hmiel had spent 11 years with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. before joining EGR when the teams merged operations in late 2008. Glover had been with the team since Ganassi joined NASCAR in 2000 by purchasing the former SABCO Racing.
It remains to be seen whether EGR can regain in 2010 form, and Ganassi dismissed talk of expanding to a three-car effort yesterday, saying that even if sponsorship were available, his team is not sufficiently competitive to justify the move.
There are bright spots for EGR, however. Despite a still-lagging economy that has major organizations like Roush Fenway Racing scrambling for sponsorship. Both Montoya and McMurray are fully sponsored for 2012. The team debuted McMurray’s new Belkin, LiftMaster and Banana Boat-sponsored Chevrolets Tuesday, as that trio of new backers prepares to join Bass Pro Shops and McDonald’s as sponsors of McMurray’s No. 1 entry. Target will return as major sponsor of Montoya’s No. 42 Chevrolet.