For the first time in a very long time there is excitement building inside the walls at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. After years of mediocrity, the tide is turning for the organization for the better and Sunday’s win by Jamie McMurray just put a punctuation mark on it.
“Winning, it’s not just about me; it’s about everybody within our whole group. You know, probably more so the 1 guys because they’re the ones that are in victory lane. But it’s so cool to see their faces in victory lane and know that when we go to Martinsville, you have confidence, everybody does. It’s so big for us because Martinsville to me plate tracks are probably my best tracks, and Martinsville is probably my next best. I love getting to go there,” said McMurray after the win Sunday.
This is a great place to be able to win at to take not only my confidence but everybody else within our group to that track where I feel we’ll run really well at. McMurray and teammate Juan Pablo Montoya have been running better than they have in the past few years. Prior to the win McMurray finished second at Kentucky and Montoya finished second at Dover. Other races they have been in contention, but one thing or another whipped out a good finish. McMurray has posted four top-5 finishes and eight top-10 finishes, which is more than 2011 and 2012 combined. Montoya has posted four top-5 finishes as well, better than 2011 and 2012 combined. His seven top-10 finishes is just shy of the eight he posted in 2011, in 2012 he had two all season.
Montoya is on his way out after the conclusion of this season, but momentum will continue because replacing him is highly touted rookie Kyle Larson. Larson, who will make his second Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Martinsville, was running in the top-15 during his debut at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. While he hasn’t collected any wins during his first season in the Nationwide Series, Larson has shown he has the skill set to get the job done.
“You know, my first indication (Larson is a special talent) was at Daytona this year. I remember watching him in the race, hearing all the time how special he is, how special he is. He’s running around the Nationwide race 14th or 12th. I thought, What the hell is so special about this kid? Sure enough, at the finish line, he was right there. Of course, he was here and there at the finish line at Daytona this year, I should say. Be that as it may, that to me was special. I’ve seen that five or six, eight times now. He gives you the impression he’s dilly-dallying in the middle of the pack, not paying attention. Always at the end he’s where it seems to matter to be. That says something to me,” said team co-owner Chip Ganassi.
Coming to Martinsville this weekend, McMurray will look to prove he’s not just a restrictor plate winner. While he has no wins at the paperclip shaped facility, he does have a second place finish in in 2004. Montoya will look to close his NASCAR career (potentially) on a high note by getting his first oval win at the tough track.
The Goody’s Headache Powder 500 gets under way at 2 PM EST and can be seen on ESPN.