Heroy Heads to Daytona with Montoya

Juan Pablo Montoya

The three-day test will begin on Thursday. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)

Preseason Thunder Schedule of Events

This weekend, Chris Heroy takes the next step of his racing career when he participates in NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona International Speedway for the first time as crew chief of the No. 42 Chevrolet with driver Juan Pablo Montoya.

After joining Earnhardt Ganassi Racing at the conclusion of last season, Heroy has transitioned into his new role after serving as the lead engineer of the No. 5 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports.

"As an engineer, you are just focused on the car," Heroy said. "In crew chiefing - especially with the organization, the personnel, the shop and all those sorts of things - it's something you don't really get too involved with as an engineer. It's been a great challenge. It's been something I've looked forward to doing for a long time." (Audio)

The last month has also given Heroy the opportunity to get to know Montoya, who he watched dominate the CART Series in 1999 and 2000 while working as an engineer in the Toyota Atlantic Series.

"I took this job having never met Juan," Heroy said. "Obviously, I have heard him on the (team) radio and watched his career. I have gotten to know him over the last few weeks and he's a real interesting guy. He has an incredible amount of passion for what he does. I'm also incredibly passionate about this team and the work we put into it. We have some tests planned in January. We've got new cars being built and he's definitely in the loop of what's going on. We are looking forward to showing the entire garage what we can do because I think it can be pretty special." (Audio)

Montoya is looking forward to a fresh start after finishing 21st in the final 2011 standings after working with two crew chiefs.

"We've got a lot of new things on the team," Montoya said. "A lot of people are motivated to win and a lot of people really want to prove everybody wrong that we have the right stuff to get the job done. I think we do. I think the timing is good and I think everything is falling into place to become a great team so I'm pretty excited."

The three-day Daytona test will give teams the first opportunity to take to the track with the new rules package that NASCAR implemented as a result of information gathered during recent tests at Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona.

"It's a really big change," Heroy said. "We, as an organization, didn't go to the test in November that they had down there. The whole package is going to change the handling quite a bit. We are going to Daytona ready for anything. With the rule changes being this big you really don't know what you are going to get. We'll load up the truck and probably grab another trailer and throw some stuff in there and try to make it all work."

Preseason Thunder will begin on Thursday at 9 a.m. (ET). MotorRacingNetwork.com will be trackside to bring you the latest from the "World Center of Racing."

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