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NASCAR: Montoya loses ride with Ganassi

by JENNA FRYER AP Auto Racing Writer on August 14, 2013 10:50 AM

Juan Pablo Montoya, one of the most decorated drivers in the world with an Indianapolis 500 victory and wins in Formula One, NASCAR and the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, will not have a chance to find success in NASCAR with longtime team owner Chip Ganassi.

The team owner informed Montoya he will not bring the Colombian back for an eighth NASCAR season.

Ganassi president Steve Lauletta announced the decision to the team Tuesday, multiple people present for the announcement told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Ganassi does not comment to reporters on driver contracts.

Montoya has been with Ganassi since 2006 when he abruptly left Formula One — where he had seven wins and 30 podiums — for NASCAR.

It’s his second stint with the car owner — the two teamed together to win the 1999 CART championship and 2000 Indianapolis 500 before Montoya moved to F1.

But results in NASCAR have been sporadic. Montoya has just two wins in 239 career starts and his best season finish was eighth in 2009.

The poor showings led Montoya to rededicate himself this season and turn up his fitness, “I want to (expletive) succeed in this. I’m tired of sucking,” he said before the Brickyard 400, in an effort to see if he’s been the problem with the No. 42 Chevrolet.

Montoya made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in 2009 with crew chief Brian Pattie behind a career-best 18 top-10s, and he was third in points with six races to go in the season before fading to eighth in the final standings.

He won on the road course at Watkins Glen in 2010, but Pattie was let go before Indianapolis in 2011 for Montoya’s fourth crew chief change. The Ganassi team began another overhaul that winter and Chris Heroy was hired as Montoya’s fifth crew chief before 2012. That entire season was spent trying to get the Ganassi cars up to speed.

It’s not clear where Montoya goes next. He’s got an impressive resume on the world level that’s not appreciated in the confines of the NASCAR garage, and there aren’t many open seats available — at least not any good ones — in the Sprint Cup Series.

It could force Montoya to look at sports car racing, a return to open wheel, or maybe even a European series if he chooses to continue racing.

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