By admin | February 5, 2014
This is one of several previews of Sprint Cup teams going into the 2014 season. Look for these pieces to be released every Tuesday and Thursday during the weeks leading up to the season opening Daytona 500.
By Richard Allen
The Juan Pablo Montoya experiment is over. The experiment of being tied into a joint venture engine deal with Richard Childress Racing has been over for a while now. The experiment of being involved in a partnership with Teresa Earnhardt is over. What do those three pieces of information mean for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates? They mean that this organization may finally be ready to assume a place among the elite teams in NASCAR.
And more, the Ganassi team is bringing in one of the most heralded young drivers to come into the sport in quite some time in Kyle Larson. The young California native will join forces with veteran pilot Jamie McMurray in 2014 in an attempt to elevate this team to the level its counterpart organization enjoys on the IndyCar circuit.
But rising that high so quickly will indeed be a challenge. However, McMurray proved last season that CGR is capable of winning races as he took the checkered flag in Talladega last October. Along with that victory, McMurray also posted four top-5s and nine top-10s on his way to a 15th place result in the final Sprint Cup standings.
Montoya, a former Indianapolis 500 champion and Formula 1 winner, was just never able to establish himself as a steady performer in NASCAR despite flashes of brilliance during his seven year run with Ganassi.
Larson will bring a solid resume with him to the sport’s highest level, even at the tender age of 21. He scored 17 top-10 finishes on his way to an 8th place showing in the series standings last year during his only season in the Nationwide Series. He has won in the Camping World Truck Series. He posted two wins and 12 top-10s in only 14 starts on his way to a NASCAR K&N East Series title in 2012. And he has piled up numerous wins on dirt and asphalt short tracks all over the country.
Unlike Montoya, Larson’s career leading up to this opportunity has been more geared toward oval track racing.
As was the case last season, the Ganassi teams will sport engines from Hendrick Motorsports. Further, Keith Rodden will increase the HMS influence with this team as he has moved from the #5 car of Kasey Kahne to serve as crew chief for McMurray. Chris Heroy will continue as the crew chief on the #42 for Larson.
With McMurray re-signed to only a one year contract at the end of last season and with several sponsors also only signed through 2014, this is the year for this organization to make a move. They have the pieces in place with one experienced, proven driver and another with loads of potential. They also have the infrastructure in place to contend on a more consistent basis.
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