RICHMOND, Va. —
“When Harvick went by I tried to get to the bottom and then (Joey Logano) was there and I said ‘We’ve just got to get a finish,”’ he said. “Remember, before this we had six really bad weeks.”
Terrible weeks, in fact, in a season that started with so much promise and so much pressure.
In his seventh season with Ganassi since leaving Formula One for NASCAR, Montoya has no more time left on his contract unless Ganassi picks up the option the team owner holds. But keeping his seat in the No. 42 Chevrolet could depend on performance in an organization desperately trying to turn a corner.
With so many expectations to take NASCAR by storm, Montoya instead has just two road course victories and a lone appearance, in 2009, in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. But the team struggled mightily, Ganassi has made numerous personnel changes — including a revolving door of crew chiefs for Montoya — and no amount of talent could get Montoya out of the rut.
He recommitted himself to his fitness, focused on his racing and opened the year driving the final stint in Ganassi’s victory in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. It was his third win in the prestigious sports car race, but first driving the final leg.
The momentum from that win never materialized, even though the Ganassi organization appears to be the most improved group in the garage. Montoya went to Richmond with six finishes of 20th or worse in eight races, while teammate Jamie McMurray had three top-10s and was 10th in the standings.
The difference between Montoya and McMurray appears to be bad luck.
Montoya has been plagued by loose wheels, flat tires, a fuel pump problem, a gearbox issue — the list goes on and on. And when management stepped in and replaced his front tire changer before Kansas, Montoya was stymied in that race by another loose wheel.