Last year, Chip Ganassi was on the highest of highs. He became the first team owner to win the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400, and the Indianapolis 500 in the same season. Jamie McMurray had won three Cup races that season, and Juan Pablo Montoya showed the world that he is definitely a road-course racer with his win at Watkins Glen. A year later, both drivers missed the Chase for the Sprint Cup, with McMurray and the No. 1 team finishing 27th in the standings, and Montoya and the No. 42 team finishing 21st. Both had only two top fives finishes, and McMurray only had four top 10s finishes. To say that Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya, the drivers at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing(EGR), had a bad 2011 would be an understatement.
Changes are coming to Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing in 2012.
EGR announced on Tuesday that long-time members of its competition department, Steve Hmiel and Tony Glover, had been fired. Hmiel had worked for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. for 11 years before the organization merged with Chip Ganassi Racing following the 2008 season. Glover has been with the organization since its starting. He was the crew chief and team manager at Sabco Racing, which was bought by Ganassi in 2001. Glover won three Daytona 500s as a crew chief for Ernie Irvan and Sterling Marlin. Team Engineer, Ed Nathman, was also let go. EGR recently hired former Red Bull Technical Direct John Probst for the same job.
When asked about the decision to let the men go, Ganassi said “You owe it to your team, partners and the fans to bring in good people whenever you have the opportunity.”
Earnhardt-Ganassi Raing has been in the news a few times this year and not for positive reasons, a tire-changer and shop mechanic were fired after being arrest during a drug bust in Huntersville, N.C. Both men were later suspended indefinitely, for violation of the circuit’s substance abuse policy as well as actions detrimental to stock-car racing.
But there are some positives for EGR, Juan Pablo Montoya recently signed a contract extension with the team and he will start the 2012 NASCAR season with a new chief, Chris Heroy, who is replacing Jim Pohlman who was there on an interim basis. Heroy joins EGR from Hendrick Motorsports, where he worked since 2004 as both an engineer and crew chief. For six of the past seven seasons he had been the lead engineer of the No. 5 car that Mark Martin drove to runner-up in the championship two years ago. Heroy also served as the crew chief for Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, claiming top-five finishes in every race they competed in.
In the 2012 Daytona 500 Montoya enters his sixth full season in the Sprint Cup Series, while McMurray enters his ninth full season in the sport. No replacements were announced for Hmiel and Glover, but change is always a good thing when you aren’t competing on the track, don’t you think?