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Friday, May 30, 2008

Montoya on the move?

One of the most interesting rumors circulating in the garage area is that Juan Pablo Montoya, a driver who is used to winning and is clearly not happy with the performance of his current Ganassi ride, may been on his way to another team next year. Montoya let his boss know face-to-face this week that he is upset with the way the team is running, and is not happy with all the recent crew chief swaps that have been going on in the organization, which is having a pretty terrible season.

The most interesting part is that Joe Gibbs is rumored to be interested in Montoya should Tony Stewart somehow get out of his contract and go elsewhere next season. This would be an interesting combination, but I think it would work. Montoya is a clear talent, with wins in Formula 1, Indycar and NASCAR's top two series, he knows his way around a racetrack, and frankly I'm shocked it took him this long to realize Ganassi is not the best place for him to be. The 20 car is very strong, and putting a great driver like Montoya in the seat could mean a winning combination.

Gibbs also is used to dealing with hot-tempered and controversial drivers (Kyle Busch, Stewart), so he wouldn't have any problems keeping Montoya happy. I hate to see Tony leave the team that's been so good to him all these years, but if he does Montoya is the perfect replacement.


DOVER:
As the drivers hit the concrete this weekend at Dover, look for Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne to continue their recent string of strong runs. Biffle could take the win, but the odds-on favorite is Carl Edwards, who is a master of concrete. Look for either Biffle or Edwards to take the checkered flag.

Though I've said it before, I'll say it again. Don't miss the Nationwide race this week, as it's the debut of newly 18-year-old Joey Logano, aka the next big thing. Four years ago, Mark Martin said he was the future of racing, when the kid was 14 years old. I can't think of a better endorsement, and he's lived up to it in the years since with his performance in the lower series. It should be fun to see what he can do.

1 Comments:

Blogger MarkyMark said...

Matt,

I've followed Montoya since he tore up CART back in 1999, driving for Ganassi. I wasn't a fan at first, but it was clear that he was something special; it was clear that he was a unique talent and individual. When he went to the Williams F1 team, I started following F1, knowing that JPM WOULD be entertaining; he didn't disappoint! One of my favorite racing memories is of Juan literally knocking wheels with Michael Schumacher, forcing him on to the grass @ Interlagos in 2001...

Before JPM announced that he was coming to NASCAR, I'd started doing other things when the races were on; NASCAR had become boring, devoid of personalities other than Tony Stewart perhaps. When JPM said he was coming to NASCAR, I, along with many in the racing world, raised my eyebrows; this was news! As one who, by this point, had followed JPM for a few years, I became interested in NASCAR once again. I knew that JPM would spice things up, and he has; he's made NASCAR worth watching again...

When the deal was first announced, I figured it would be a win-win for both Chip & JPM. One, they'd had success in their respective series, but had lost their mojo, as it were. Two, they'd had success working with one another in the past, and I believe that they saw this as a chance to find the spark to reignite their careers-JPM as a driver, and Chip as an owner. Chip had had success in NASCAR in 2000-2001, but none as of late. JPM had had success in F1, but not recently with McLaren; he was on the outs, and no top seats (read Ferarri, McLaren, or Renault at the time) were available. I believe that both Chip & JPM saw their renewed partnership as a way to revive both of their respective fortunes in racing.

I am dismayed that Chip cannot CONSISTENTLY put good cars under JPM; when he's had a good car, JPM has shown that he can mix it up with the 'good old boys', and come out on top. His competitors took notice; remember Matt Kenseth's comments about how well Montoya ran @ Atlanta in 2007? I would love nothing more than to see the 42 car running up front all the time.

That begs the question: given Chip's success in other forms of racing, how come he hasn't been able to duplicate that success in NASCAR? I think that there are a couple of reasons. One, NASCAR is extremely competitive, unlike CART, the IRL, Grand Am, or ALMS. In NASCAR, either you're getting better, or you're getting worse; there's no in between. Just look at how RCR or RYR have been doing in recent years. Here we have two PERENNIAL front running, championship caliber teams struggling! If they're having a difficult time, how can one expect Chip's team to do differently?

The second reason I think that Chip is having trouble is simply because NASCAR is so different from open wheel racing; almost all of Chip's career, both as a driver and owner, were in open wheel racing. Between the bigger, heavier cars that weigh almost THREE TIMES what Indy cars do; the relative lack of downforce; the tires that are HALF the size of those on Indy cars; and, the fact that Sprint Cup cars have front engines vs. the rear engines in Indy cars; combine all those factors, and Chip is a relative novice at Cup racing. It's not that he's stupid or doesn't know how to win; it's simply to say that NASCAR is a foreign endeavor to Chip Ganassi, so he's going to be behind the 8 ball with respect to his competitors in NASCAR.

So, would JPM go to JGR? I don't know; I know he wouldn't make such a move lightly, given his history with Chip. I think if TCGRFS can make some PROGRESS; if TCGRFS can start running in the top 20 and get a whiff of some top 10s and flirt with a top 5 on occasion, then I think JPM stays with Chip.

However, if TCGRFS continues to be mired in the back of the pack, then JPM would be tempted to move to JGR. JGR has CONSISTENTLY fielded competitive cars from their inception; when they show up at the track every week, none of the other teams can take them lightly. They are clearly one of NASCAR'S ELITE teams, a team that knows how to win. JPM is ALL about winning; he always has been. That's what I like about him; he refuses to lose. If Chip cannot show JPM that he'll be ABLE to put a good car under him in the near future, then JPM just might move to JGR; once he was there, he'd have NO WORRY WHATSOEVER about having a good car every week. Being the racer that he is, JPM couldn't help but find such a scenario appealing...

As you pointed out, JGR has also had LOTS of practice handling, shall we say, 'spirited' drivers? Joe Gibbs, his son J.D., and Greg Zipadelli have all had lots of practice with Tony Stewart-ha! And what is JPM, but Tony Stewart with some Latin spice thrown in for good measure? To me, it would appear to be a good fit for all concerned...

Oh, speaking of JGR, how do you like how they handle Kyle Busch's press conferences? You have Kyle, the somewhat reluctant villain flanked by Steve Addington and J.D Gibbs; at every press conference you see this! To me, it seems like J.D. and Addington are both lending their support to Kyle in a clear, convincing, yet non-verbal way; it's as if they're saying, "Yeah, we know Kyle is Kyle, but he's OUR driver, and we stand behind him 100%..." I think it's neat; I like that whole dynamic. None of the other teams do this.

Those are my thoughts on JPM's rumored move to JGR. While I would hate to see it happen given JPM and CG's history over the years, I could understand WHY it might happen. For whatever reason, TCGRFS has NOT been able to translate their open wheel success to NASCAR. They have not been able to put the good cars beneath JPM that he deserves; when TCGRFS has been able to put a good car underneath him, Montoya has shown that he knows EXACTLY what to do with it-run up front, and mix it up with the 'good ole boys'! Since JPM is all about winning, since he's a RACER, if JGR came a knockin' at his door, I could see him being seriously tempted. Thank you, and good night...

MarkyMark

June 26, 2008 at 7:23 PM 

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