NASCAR Sprint Media Tour: Day 3

Pesnke Racing

Joey Logano will be Brad Keselowski's new teammate in 2013. (Photo: Getty Images)

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CONCORD, N.C. - The third day of the 31st annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway included stops with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Penske Racing.

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing hosted a morning event at Concord Regional Airport where the team formally announced a partnership with Cessna Aircraft. A 10-race deal for Jamie McMurray will also include associate sponsorships across the entire fleet of the team’s entries in NASCAR, Indy Car and GRAND-AM.

Jamie McMurrayMcMurray will also have an increase in McDonald’s sponsorship 13 to 15 races with Bass Pro Shops also in for a pair of races despite taking the bulk of its backing to Tony Stewart in 2013.

The former Daytona 500 winner is hoping to see more improvement from his team and the entire organization after two straight trying seasons.

“A lot of stuff we were trying wasn’t making it better and some things were making it worse,” said McMurray, who will basically have the same team members in 2013 including crew chief Kevin “Bono” Manion. “You were trying to figure out where you’re speed is.

“Obviously we didn’t finish where we wanted to, but I feel like we learned a lot towards the end of last year, and I think that’s why you didn’t see any changes.”

Juan Pablo Montoya and crew chief Chris Heroy return with the No. 42 Target Chevrolet and Ganassi is hoping the continuity will be beneficial.

"We’re not afraid to make changes, but we’re not going to make change for the sake of making change," Ganassi said.

Montoya chalked up much of last season’s struggles to an inordinate amount of bad luck.

“Things that are completely outrageous, just bad luck, were happening to us in 2012,” said Montoya of his year that started off with his infamous encounter with a jet dryer at Daytona. “It was just a rough year for everybody. The good thing is, it makes everybody work harder and become more focused. I think it’s going to pay off.”

EGR made several personnel moves after the 2011 season, which Ganassi termed “pathetic,” but did not see much in the way of improvement last year with McMurray and Montoya finishing 21st and 22nd in the final standings.

“It didn’t translate as fast as I would have liked it to on the track, but … we’re light years ahead of where we were a year ago,” Ganassi said of his team, which will utilize Hendrick engines this season.

Charlotte Motor Speedway hosted a luncheon presentation and track president Marcus Smith told reporters a format change for the May Sprint All-Star Race will include some slight modifications.

"I'd expect there will be some kind of format change to the race most every year," said Smith.

HMSThe tour then rolled to the sprawling Hendrick Motorsports campus for an early afternoon session. Team owner Rick Hendrick was joined on stage by his quartet of drivers as Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne all return for the 2013 campaign.

"I feel even more confident about this year than I did last season," said Hendrick, who predicted all four of his drivers would make the Chase in 2012.

Earnhardt admitted that last week's testing crash at Daytona Preseason Thunder was not one of his finest moments.

"I thought long and hard, and that's probably the most embarrassed I've ever been," he said.

Five-time Jimmie Johnson says he and crew chief Chad Knaus are determined to get the No. 48 team back into title contention again in 2013.

"I feel like through those five years there was some pressure on me that I didn’t know existed until the streak ended,” said Johnson, who finished third in points last season. “Starting the 2011 season, I was aware of that and kind of a clean sheet of paper. Time to start a new streak if I can or turn a page to what’s next.”

The day wrapped at Penske Racing with team owner Roger Penske introducing his duo of drivers defending Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.

"I'm feeling very confident about the direction of this race team," said Keselowski, who will attempt to win a second straight Sprint Cup title. "We're determined to build on what we accomplished last year and celebrate another championship in 2013."

Hertz will sponsor seven Nationwide Series races and a Sprint Cup race with the No. 22 Ford of Logano. The rental car company also will be an associate sponsor of the team.

Team owner Penske also admitted to speaking with former driver Ryan Newman about the possibility of returning to the organization. But a sponsor for a third car could not be found and Newman signed a one-year deal with Stewart-Haas Racing. However, Penske did not rule out Newman's possible return down the road.

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NASCAR Sprint Cup

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