Montoya Not Returning to EGR in 2014
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on August 13, 2013 | 5:05 P.M. EST
Juan Pablo Montoya, whose tenure at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing will end after this season, has not finished higher than 17th in the points since 2010. (Photo: Getty Images)
Juan Pablo Montoya will not return to Earnhardt Ganassi Racing after this season, a source told Motor Racing Network - confirming a report by The Associated Press.
Montoya has been with the team since 2007, scoring two victories in 239 career NASCAR Sprint Cup starts. He is 22nd in the points entering Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
A spokesperson said the team does not comment on the contractual status of its drivers. The Associated Press reported that Steve Lauletta, president of EGR, announced the decision to the organization Tuesday.
Co-owner Felix Sabates confirmed late Tuesday afternoon to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s "Sirius Speedway" that the team did not renew Montoya’s contract for next season.
"We are still hoping to get some things worked out with Juan," Sabates said. "We don’t want to elaborate on that now. It was a difficult decision. He understands. He’s a professional. You’ve got to move on with your life sometimes."
Montoya made the Chase in 2009, but he has not finished better than 17th in the points since for car owner Chip Ganassi.
Asked in June at Sonoma about his future, Montoya said: "I don’t see why I would be doing anything different unless you know something that I don’t know. I think I’ve worked really hard to be good here and I think I’m really good here. Now that we’ve got our cars good, it would be crazy to do something different."
His Cup tenure at EGR has been marked by inconsistent performances and inconsistent cars. The organization has made several personnel changes in the last couple of years while leaving its driver lineup intact.
"I’ve been sticking by Chip, especially in the lows when a lot of people didn’t," Montoya said at Sonoma. "I've felt that I’ve been loyal. Now that we’re running better, I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be around."
Montoya’s departure could open the team’s seat for its 21-year-old development driver Kyle Larson. He’s currently competing in the Nationwide Series for Turner Scott Motorsports.
"There are a lot of options out there," Sabates told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio about who could replace Montoya. "We’re going to keep our options open. We don’t know ourself what we’re going to do. Kyle Larson is one of the prospects, but he’s one of several."
Larson, who is eighth in the Nationwide point standings with 12 top-10 finishes in 21 starts, has impressed many in the sport.
"He just has a ton of car control," Tony Stewart said of Larson earlier this month at Pocono. "I see a lot of things I like to see (out of drivers)."
Said Jeff Gordon about Larson: "That kid is unreal. I wish we had five or six more of him."