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The Journal Gazette

Friday, April 19, 2013 2:26 pm

Montoya says he's happy with Earnhardt Ganassi


Juan Pablo Montoya appears to be perfectly content with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, even if nobody seems willing to talk about whether he'll still be with the team next season.

Montoya is off to a rough start in a contract year, done in by a frustrating mixture of breakdowns and bad luck. His best finish has been 12th at Phoenix, but more often he's been enough laps off the pace that he's fighting for scraps at the back of the pack.

"You look at it, we've had two races we haven't had any problems," Montoya said at Kansas Speedway.

"We're making too many mistakes with the team," he said, "and when you're making that many mistakes, you can't expect to have good results.

Montoya was involved in a wreck at Daytona, struggled in race trim at Las Vegas and had a fuel pump problem at Bristol. He's also had a gear box problem, a flat tire under green cost him at Martinsville and a loose tire last week that put him a lap down at Texas.

Montoya was fastest during the early portion of practice ahead of Friday's qualifying at Kansas. Now, it's a matter of taking all that speed into the race.

"At Bristol, I had a top-five car there without stressing myself," he said. "I was one of the few guys that could pass people. But when you're 13 laps down, you know what I mean? You're going to finish 13 laps down, and you're going to finish 30th. Last week, they left a loose tire under green, you come back in. You lose two laps. You can't recover from that. You can't."

Montoya said the No. 42 Chevrolet made a change to the pit crew this week, swapping out the front tire changer, and "hopefully it addresses some of the problems we've been having."

Getting a handle on the problems couldn't come soon enough.

Montoya teamed with Chip Ganassi to win the 1999 CART championship and the 2000 Indianapolis 500. The owner holds an option on next season for Montoya, so it's possible that their lengthy relationship could be coming to an end.

"Things are good," Montoya said. "We worked a lot over the winter, we built really good race cars this year, we have Hendrick engines that are good. It's just hard when you don't have anything to show for it. We have speed, the potential is there."

Montoya also said that his relationship with Ganassi remains good.

"He cares," Montoya said. "I talk to him pretty much every week. He wants to know what's going on, he's really involved. It's just, I don't know. I think things are good.

"I think reaching potential, when you have a fuel-pump problem, how do you reach your potential? Or when your gear box breaks, how do you reach your potential? In the garage fixing it? ... It's not about blaming people. It's about fixing the problems and moving ahead."