Both USA Today and the Associated Press, among other new outlets, began reporting Tuesday evening that Juan Montoya is out at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing — out as in won’t be driving the No. 42 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next year. According to reports, team officials are speaking under a condition of anonymity because it is against team policy to discuss driver contracts. These anonymous sources claim that EGR team members were notified on Tuesday at the the race shop that Montoya would not be with the team next year.
Montoya has a long relationship with team owner Chip Ganassi that reaches outside NASCAR. The owner/driver pairing won the 1999 CART championship and the 2000 Indianapolis 500 together. Montoya left Ganassi’s open wheel program to compete in Formula One between 2001 and 2006. He then returned to the Ganassi fold to try his hand at stock car racing.
Montoya has raced full-time at the Sprint Cup level since 2007. He has two-career wins in the series, both coming on road courses. His most recent win came at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International in 2010.
A specific driver wasn’t mentioned as Montoya’s replacement. Drivers who are, possibly, on the market (given that they haven’t already signed a deal that hasn’t yet been made public) include Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, A.J. Allmendinger, Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin. EGR does have one driver in its development ranks — Nationwide Series competitor Kyle Larson.
As far as possible NASCAR options for Montoya, drivers haven’t been officially named for various rides at Richard Childress Racing, Phoenix Racing (which has a still-unnamed new owner) and JTG-Daugherty Racing.
Also a seat outside of NASCAR isn’t out of the question.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR