Hot 20 over the past 10 – Past decade could have been kinder to Juan Pablo Montoya

By Ron Thornton On Thu, Aug. 15, 2013

Photo Credit: Barry Albert
Photo Credit: Barry Albert

Juan Pablo Montoya, winner of the 2000 Indianapolis 500 among eight CART victories, winner of the 2003 Monaco Grand Prix among seven Formula One triumphs, but a winner of a single Cup race at Sonoma and another at the Glen in 239 starts. That, in a nutshell, is why Montoya was hired and why he will soon be fired as the driver of the #42 Target team of Chip Ganassi.

Montoya already had a heady resume to his credit when he arrived in NASCAR’s top division at the end of 2006 as a 31-year old.  I mean, his Monaco win marked the start of eight straight podium finishes and twice he finished third in the season F-1 points standings. Like Tony Stewart before him, he has a CART season title to his credit, but unlike Stewart it is Montoya who owns the biggest Indianapolis victory.

You might get the idea that Juan Pablo Montoya is a damn good driver. He finished fifth last weekend at the Glen. Sadly, his average career finish is 20th and it seems evident that without a few rights on the track, he is left struggling even in this, his seventh full campaign.

So, is it Montoya or is it Earnhardt Ganassi Racing that has the bigger problem? Well, since 2001 Chip Ganassi has been able to celebrate a dozen times in Victory Lane. Sterling Marlin gave him two in 2001 and two more in 2002. Jamie McMurray had his first the same year, while he and Montoya each had one in 2007. Jamie added one more in 2009, then three more in 2010, including the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400, while Juan Pablo took Watkins Glen the same season.

There are teams who would be happy with that record, but not if they are owned by folks named Hendrick, Roush, Childress, Gibbs or Penske. I don’t think Stewart or Waltrip would be terribly satisfied, either. So, I guess a winner of four Indianapolis 500 races, 89 CART/IndyCar events, and nine CART/IndyCar season crowns might seek to be better, You might also get the idea that Chip Ganassi is a damn good owner of racing teams.

I expected more from Montoya. I expect more from McMurray. I expect more from Chip Ganassi. I do not know what to expect from any of them in 2014.

Michigan is next on the dance card for this Sunday. It was the track that essentially ended Ganassi’s own driving career in a 1984 wreck. As an owner, he has won there three times, with the last coming in the 2000 Michigan 500 CART race. His driver? Juan Pablo Montoya.

With his win at the Glen, Kyle Busch moves into a close second to Jimmie Johnson among those who have been hot as of late. Brad Keselowski’s runner-up run jumps him six spots on this chart, while Tony Stewart begins his fade to black. Four drivers seeking a Chase place, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, and Jeff Gordon, are all heating up at the right time. Greg Biffle has won the past two races at the venue and he will seek the fifth of his career on the weekend.


Name Points Pos. LW Rank W T5 T10
  Jimmie Johnson  363 1 2 (1) 2 3 7
  Kyle Busch  361 2 6 (5) 1 5 8
  Clint Bowyer  348 3 3 (2) 0 3 6
  Kevin Harvick  345 4 1 (4) 0 2 7
  Kurt Busch  319 5 5 (11) 0 2 6
  Carl Edwards  315 6 7 (3) 0 2 4
  Dale Earnhardt, Jr.  306 7 10 (6) 0 2 5
  Tony Stewart  303 8 4 (17) 1 5 6
  Greg Biffle  303 9 12 (9) 1 2 4
  Joey Logano  300 10 8 (16) 0 1 7
  Brad Keselowski  299 11 17 (8) 0 3 4
  Ryan Newman  290 12 9 (14) 1 3 5
  Jeff Gordon  290 13 11 (13) 0 3 6
  Martin Truex, Jr.  289 14 14 (10) 1 3 4
  Jamie McMurray  279 15 16 (15) 0 1 2
  Matt Kenseth  265 16 15 (7) 1 2 4
  Kasey Kahne  252 17 13 (12) 1 2 3
  Juan Pablo Montoya  252 18 20 (22) 0 2 3
  Marcos Ambrose  246 19 18 (23) 0 0 2
  Casey Mears  241 20 22 (24) 0 0 1
  Jeff Burton  235 21 19 (21) 0 1 2
  Aric Almirola  233 22 21 (18) 0 1 1
  Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.  219 23 23 (20) 0 0 0
  Paul Menard  212 24 24 (19) 0 0 0
Ron Thornton (279 Posts)

Ron is a former broadcaster who is in his 11th season writing for SpeedwayMedia and is celebrating his 21st season as Amy's husband. Their 19-year old sons are in their second year of Civil Engineering Technology, and they will have to wait and see if their family time at the baseball diamonds extends another season or not. Something about budding careers might get in the way. Ron is still not sure he wants to do when he grows up, other than possibly not actually growing up. So far, so good.

The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c)
Displaying 3 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Keith says:

    This does not bode well for non US drivers because I thought he was the only one with the mentality and talent to make it in the cup series. I’m not knocking anyone’s talent but the learning curve is pretty steep and they don’t do much of this type of racing abroad.

  2. Mark says:

    To correct you, McMurray drove for Roush starting in 2006 through 2009. The wins in 2007 and 2009 you speak of for McMurray were done so driving the 26 car for Roush at Daytona and Talladega respectively. He moved back to EGR in 2010 where he won the 500, the Brickyard and Charlotte.

    Juan won in 2007 at Sonoma and in 2010 at the Glen. McMurray has 4 wins total for EGR, 1 in 2002 and 3 in 2010. Marlin Had 4 wins for Ganassi. 2 in 2001 and 2 in 2002. So technically, EGR has 10 career wins.

  3. Nick says:

    Ganassi only has 10 wins since 2001. McMurray’s 2007 and 2009 wins came while he was at Roush.

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