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Tag:Juan Pablo Montoya
Posted on: March 2, 2012 4:23 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 8:12 pm
 

Juan Pablo Montoya reflects on Daytona crash

By Pete Pistone



Juan Pablo Montoya has played the scary-looking incident from last Monday niight's Daytona 500 over in his head all week and understand just how lucky he is that things ended up the way they did.

Montoya's fiery crash with a jet dryer working on the track in turn three was the result of a parts failure on his Target Chevrolet as he was trying to catch up to the field under caution.

“There was a vibration; an issue or the gear box broke," Montoya explained Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. "It started to feel weird because then I shifted and it depends on the rpm; it was like on or off. And I said (to the crew on the radio) look, I think there’s something wrong. We looked at everything and everything was fine. And I went out again and we had a problem with the car and that was it, you know. We move on.” 

Montoya suffered what he calls minor injuries to his feet in the accident but other than that he's no worse for wear.

“I’m feeling okay," he said. "My feet are still a little sore, but not bad. It’s kind of interesting a week later, or five days later, and you’re looking back on that. And there’s actually a shot that shows the impact, and I’m pretty lucky to be honest.” 

As Montoya's car sped down the backstretch and then went out of control heading for the jet dryer he saus all he could do is brace himself for what he knew was going to be a big hit.

“It sucks because the car spun and I’m going oh, driver’s side, that’s going to suck," Montoya said. "That’s the only thing. You don’t think oh my God I’m going to kill myself. Nah. You go oh, that’s going to hurt. It wasn’t too bad.” 

The spectacular crash became a worldwide sensation and was quickly known around the world thanks to television, social media and You Tube. Montoya says he's heard from other drivers in various forms of motorsports who all have praised the safety initiatives in NASCAR.

“I think overall, people were kind of amazed that I walked out of that one," he said. "Honestly, everybody was being pretty amazed. Everyone has been really supportive and everything. The bright side is you can joke about it.” 

Montoya's wife Connie may not yet be ready to joke about it but he says she was obviously relived to see him walk away from the crash so quickly.

She saw me get out of the car and it’s like, it’s all good," he said. "You know what I mean. As long as you get out, it’s all good, no?”

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Posted on: February 28, 2012 12:41 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 1:30 am
 

NASCAR has long history of bizarre happenings

By Pete Pistone

  Safety Workers
(Montoya's wild accident Monday night in Daytona brought out a two hour red flag - Getty Images)


Juan Pablo Montoya’s
crash with a jet dryer and the blazing fire that erupted and halted the Daytona 500 for more than two hours was just the latest addition to the list of bizarre NASCAR race happenings. 

Daytona International Speedway has seen its share of weirdness over the years racing from Dale Earnhardt hitting a seagull at speed racing down the backstretch to a driver (ok I admit it, my uncle “Tiger” Tom Pistone) actually wearing a mask and bolting an oxygen tank in his car as a precaution to driving into Lake Lloyd. He couldn’t swim if you haven’t guessed by now. 

There was the infamous Daytona pot hole in 2010 that formed in turn two and brought the race – and some say NASCAR’s momentum that season – to a screeching halt. 

Sterling Marlin gave up a chance to win the 2002 Daytona 500 when under a red flag he jumped out of his car on the backstretch and pulled his damaged fender away from the tire. That move resulted in NASCAR penalizing Marlin and dropping him from first to twelfth in the field. 

"I just pulled the fender off the tire, 'cause it was rubbing," Marlin said. "I saw Dale (Earnhardt) do it at Richmond once and NASCAR let him get away with it, but I guess the rules have changed in the meantime.” 

Daytona is not alone in the weirdness department. Other tracks have had their share over the years. 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway endured the tire debacle of the 2008 Brickyard 400, that saw caution flags fly every ten laps when Goodyear rubber literally fell apart after a handful of circuits. 

New Hampshire Motor Speedway ran a restrictor plate race in 2001 after the deaths of Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin and fears of high speeds. 

But Pocono Raceway may take the prize on the weirdness awards. 

The rustic track located in the Pocono Mountains has had many incidents of animals wandering onto the track including rabbits, chickens and ducks. 

But nothing can top the time Neil Bonnett once returned to the garage during practice with blood on the hood of his car and the antlers from a deer stuck in the grille.

 

Daytona Speedweeks


Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:06 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 4:07 pm
 

Ganassi calls 2011 effort "pathetic"

By Pete Pistone

CHARLOTTE - Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing suffred through a disappointing season in 2011.

Neither Jamie McMurray or Juan Pablo Montoya won a race and both weren't anywhere close to competing for a berth in the Chase.

But don't take my word for the poor assessment of EGR's performance. Listen to what team owner Chip Ganassi had to say at Tuesday's session on the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour.

"Hopefully this is the last time I have to say we finished 21st and 27th in the points last year," Ganassi said. "... pathetic for a team with our ability and resources."

Ok Chip tell us how you really feel.

It is in fact refreshing to hear a team owner tell it like it is the way Ganassi did on Tuesday. There's no reason to sugar coat the fact that a team many predicted would be a factor in 2011 simply failed to live up to any expectations.

After McMurray won three races the previous year including the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400, he appeared to be on an upward trend to carry that succes into 2011. Unfortunately he never came close to replicating that kind of success.

Ditto for Montoya who was trying to recapture the magic of 2009 when he did qualify for the playoffs. He too failed to succeed and went through a coupl eof crew chiefs as the team tried to right the ship.

Ganassi points to his team not making more changes as a reason why it's playing catch-up heading into the new campaign.

"The one thing about sports is that it's constantly changing," Ganassi said. "You have to change with it and you have to change fast. I like to think I can shift gears and change directions as fast as anybody, but we got a little bit behind the curve, in terms of performance, and it's because we didn't change with the sport."

So Montoya has another new crew chief in Chris Heroy, the organization made other management changes including bringing in long-respected Max Jones to oversee the day-to-day business operations and Ganassi is hoping to see better days ahead.

"Certainly after the year we had, we had to start over in a lot of areas," he said. "We made some changes in the team. We feel pretty good about them. Like so many other sports, racing's about momentum. We want to start out fast, and certainly success can breed success."
 

 
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Posted on: December 19, 2011 2:22 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 1:20 pm
 

Team Review/Preview: Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(McMurray's Brickyard 400 win of 2010 seemed like a world away after a disappointing 2011 campaign for EGR)


Review 

The team many expected to make a big move after an at-times sensational season the year before fell flat on its face in 2011. 

Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing’s tandem of Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya suffered through a dismal campaign that ended up with both missing the Chase and neither even making the first twenty in the point standings. 

It was a far cry from the previous season when team owner Chip Ganassi celebrated NASCAR wins in the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 as well as triumphs in the Indianapolis 500 and Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. 

“Very disappointed. I’m heartbroken, to tell you the truth,” Ganassi said. “We lost our way a bit. A year ago, we had the best cars. A year ago, we had the best engines. And we just lost our way here right in this building.” 

After McMurray won the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and October Charlotte race in 2010, most believed he would continue the successful trend into the new season. McMurray was a very early season favorite by many to win more races and lock down a Chase berth. 

But McMurray could only muster two top five finishes all season long and after coming hone fifth in the August Bristol race never was better than fourteenth the rest of the way. 

The result was a twenty-eighth place spot in the final standings and a very bitter taste left in the mouth of the Joplin, Missouri native.

“It's been really frustrating to have such a good season last year and struggle so much this year,” McMurray said. “We've kind of been the guy that something breaks on the car and the engine shop or wherever the failure is, they say they've never seen that before. It's just really odd.” 

Montoya could certainly empathize with his teammate’s plight also suffering through a season marred by mechanical issues as well as mediocre performances. Like McMurray, Montoya also notched only a pair of top five finishes on his way to ending up twenty first in the final Sprint Cup points.

“It just seems whatever we do is wrong,” said Montoya. “When we try to save fuel, everybody runs out of fuel, including myself. When we’ve tried to go the other way, conservative because people are running out of gas, they don’t.

“What do you do? It’s just a little bit of luck, and the luck hasn’t been on our side.” 

Along the way Montoya was involved in a few controversies as well, first enduring a crew chief change when popular Brian Pattie – who helped guide the former open wheel star to a Chase berth in 2009 – was replaced by team engineer Jim Pohlman. 

The fiery Montoya got into a feud with Ryan Newman as well this past season, a rivalry that boiled over with a number of incidents. The first came at the April Richmond race when the two made contact several times including one that appeared to be a payback by Montoya that ended up with Newman spinning into the wall. 

The two went at it again at Darlington on Mother’s Day weekend reportedly including inside the NASCAR hauler when Newman punched Montoya. 

"I'm not going to tell you s---. Let's leave it at that,” Montoya said when asked what went on behind closed doors. “What happened in the trailer was between me, Ryan Newman and NASCAR. That's it." 

Although Montoya added later "Newman hits like a girl."




Preview 

Ganassi orchestrated some major management changes inside his organization in hopes of getting his team back to a competitive level in 2012. 

Competition Director Steve Hmiel was fired, as was longtime EGR employee and team manager Tony Glover. Between them the pair have decades of experience in the sport but both were let go in a post-season shake up that also included the release of team engineer Ed Nathman. 

Pohlman returned to another spot inside the organization with Chris Heroy tabbed to now lead the No. 42 team working with Montoya. Kevin “Bono” Manion will return to McMurray’s squad and the No. 1 Chevrolet. 

Ganassi know the difficulty in trying to turn things around but vows to do whatever he can to get both his cars running competitively in the coming season.

“I’ve been in this position before so I think it’s just everybody has to get down and buckle down and work a little harder,” Ganassi told SPEED. “It’s no big secret. There’s no magic. There’s no silver bullet either. It’s just a lot of little things that we need to get back on, get focused on, get back to work on. They all know what to do. It’s just sort of outlining what we want to do, give them a plan and go attack the plan.”

 

Outlook

EGR will have its work cut out trying to pick up the pieces from the disastrous 2011 effort. While Ganassi has made some drastic changes inside the management of the company, it remains to be seen just how those will impact the weekly product on the race track. Both McMurray and Montoya suffered from a severe lack of speed last season, which was compounded by the bad luck and miscues that made their years forgettable. The untested Heroy will need to regroup the No. 42 team while Manion looks to recapture the magic he and McMurray enjoyed in 2010. Overall neither driver looks Chase-worthy heading into the 2012 season.

CHECK OUT MORE POSTS FROM OUR 2011 TEAM REVIEW/2012 PREVIEW SERIES 

For more NASCAR news, rumors and analysis, follow @PPistone on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed

 
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Posted on: December 16, 2011 4:28 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 11:12 am
 

2012 Sprint Cup Series crew chief changes

By Pete Pistone

Teams have been changing crew chiefs at a record pace and the line-up for the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season already has a very different look to it.

You can keep up with this regularly-updated chart outlining changes as they are announced:

Joe Gibbs Racing – No. 20 Toyota (Joey Logano)

In: Jason Ratcliff gets the call to take over crew chief duties for Joey Logano who enters the 2012 season on the heels of a disappointing year. Ratcliff has had great success in the JGR Nationwide program and has helped guide both Logano and Kyle Busch to multiple victories. He now gets a shot at the Cup series as management promotes from within rather than go outside the organization.

Out: Greg Zipadelli was granted his release and now rejoins Tony Stewart this time as Director of Competition with Stewart-Haas Racing. Zippy was never able to get Logano to the next level of his career despite enjoying tremendous success while serving as Stewart’s crew chief during their time together at JGR. He still had one year left on his contract but rather than keep spinning its wheels, the team decided to allow Zipadelli to leave and give the 20 team a fresh start.

Our Take: Logano enters next season as a make or break year and it was clear he and Zipadelli weren’t on the same page. A new voice in Ratcliff from atop the war wagon can’t hurt but the duo will have their work cut out trying to rebound from a disastrous effort in 2011.


Joe Gibbs Racing – No. 11 Toyota (Denny Hamlin)

In: Darian Grubb didn’t waste any time in finding employment after he parted ways with Stewart-Haas Racing and Tony Stewart’s championship-winning No. 14 team. Rather than return to his roots at Hendrick Motorsports in an engineering role that was offered, Grubb will climb back up on the pit box to call the shots for Hamlin. 

Out: Mike Ford went from eight victories and a whisker of the Sprint Cup champion in 2010 to the unemployment line the following season. When the wheels came off Hamlin’s title run in the second to last race of the year in Phoenix, the No. 11 team was never quite the same and suffered through a miserable follow up campaign. 

Our Take: Grubb has the talent and in a very short crew chief career has scored wins with Jimmie Johnson, including a Daytona 500 victory, and taken a Sprint Cup championship with Stewart. Now he faces the challenge of trying to get Hamlin back to the force he was in 2010 while also dealing with the many issues that plagued JGR’s engine program last season. Grubb will be up for the test but will have his work cut out for him.


Stewart-Haas Racing – No. 14 Chevrolet (Tony Stewart)

In: Steve Addington punched his ticket out of Penske Racing days after the season ended to take the opportunity to work with Stewart on the championship-winning team. Addington has had a successful career despite dealing with the talented and emotional Busch brothers – Kyle, when he was at Joe Gibbs Racing and Kurt last season at Penske. Stewart is also known for his emotions but Addington is well-equipped to deal with it after his recent at-times tumultuous experiences with the Busch boys.

Out: Grubb couldn’t save his job even after helping Stewart win five races in the Chase and the title. The decision to go in a different direction was made well before Stewart eventually won the championship in Homestead and despite the success there was no turning back in the parting of ways. 

Our Take: Addington and Stewart have a relationship from both their days at Gibbs as well as their early short track careers. They’ve remained friends over the years and share a similar connection that should clock together as driver-crew chief pretty quickly. The tools and resources are there for Addington to pick right up where Grubb left off.


Penske Racing – No. 22 Dodge (A.J. Allmendinger)

In: Todd Gordon gets the call from Roger Penske to move over from the team’s successful Nationwide Series program, where he led the No. 22 Dodge to six wins a year ago, to the Sprint Cup effort. Like his counterpart at the Penske No. 2 entry Paul Wolfe, Gordon will get a chance to prove himself after working his way up through the organization. 

Out: Addington was admirable in the way he dealt with the turmoil around the team last year and Busch’s well-publicized emotional outbursts. Despite the controversy, Addington and Busch did win two races and make the Chase proving at times to be a formidable pairing.

Our Take: Gordon is a bright talent and will work well knowing the ins and outs of the “Penske Way.” Now that Allmendinger has been named driver the two can begin working on chemistry and their relationship. Both are young and will more than likely benefit from a fresh start and perspective. The duo take over a ride that won twice last year and made the Chase so expectations will be high and a good start to the season will go a long way in helping build confidence with the entire team.

 

Richard Childress Racing – No. 29 Chevrolet (Kevin Harvick)

In: Shane Wilson comes back to work with Harvick as the duo team up again in their careers. The two won the Nationwide Series together in 2006. Wilson most recently was Clint Bowyer’s crew chief at RCR and after moving into another role inside the team now gets another shot to work in NASCAR’s top division this time with Harvick. 

Out: Gil Martin was able to get Harvick to victory lane multiple times in the last two seasons and made the Chase, nearly winning all the marbles in 2010. But things soured internally with the team last season and Harvick voiced his concerns to team owner Childress who decided to pull the plug on Martin, who will stay with the organization but move into a management role for the time being. 

Our Take: Harvick can be prickly to work with and Martin may have found out the hard way. Wilson has the advantage of previously working with Harvick and tasting success in the Nationwide title run. Pit road miscues doomed the No. 29 team many times last year and that will need to be eradicated by Wilson in a hurry if Harvick is to return to championship contention.

 

Richard Childress Racing – No. 31 Chevrolet (Jeff Burton)

In: Drew Blickensderfer comes to RCR from Roush Fenway Racing, where he had spent his entire NASCAR career. Blickensderfer was a valuable commodity to Roush in both its Nationwide and Sprint Cup programs, most recently working as crew chief for Matt Kenseth and then David Ragan.

Out: Luke Lambert was the interim crew chief for Burton after Todd Berrier was released around mid-season. Lambert and Burton did begin to make significant progress down the stretch of the schedule with several top ten runs to their credit and a near victory at Talladega in October.

Our Take: Blickensderfer is a hot commodity and brings a great deal of enthusiasm to the job. He clicked very well with the relatively young Ragan at RFR, a partnership that resulted in a July Daytona win, but now teams up with the seasoned veteran presence of Burton. It’s an intriguing pair that might be one of the surprises in the coming campaign.

 

Michael Waltrip Racing – No. 15 Toyota (Clint Bowyer)

In: Brian Pattie got shuffled out of the crew chief role for Juan Pablo Montoya about mid-season in favor of Jim Pohlman. Pattie remained inside Earnhardt Ganassi Racing for the balance of the year but jumped at an opportunity to crew chief once again when Waltrip’s team expanded to three cars and brought Bowyer into the fold. 

Out: Pattie steps in to fill the crew chief position for the brand new No. 15 entry. 

Our Take: When Pattie methodically guided Montoya into the 2009 Chase with a carefully calculated regular season game plan he turned a lot of heads in the garage and many applauded his talent. Things didn’t go too well in the two follow-up efforts but Pattie is still regarded as a forward-thinking crew chief who has a chance to make an even bigger name for himself if he can get Bowyer into the Chase in year one.
 

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing – No. 42 Chevrolet (Juan Pablo Montoya)

In: Chris Heroy brings his engineering background to the crew chief position replacing the Brian Pattie/Jim Pohlman combo that split duties for the team last year. 

Out: Team owner Chip Ganassi made it pretty clear he wasn’t going to go into 2012 with the same lineup that was so disappointing last season so moving Pohlman out of the spot didn’t come as much of a surprise. 

Our Take: Heroy is an unknown commodity and steps into a difficult job of trying to right the ship. The entire EGR team including Montoya’s teammate Jamie McMurray endured a miserable season it will take a huge effort all the way around to get back to being competitive on a regular basis.

2012 DRIVER TRACKER

 
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Posted on: November 22, 2011 4:52 pm
 

Juan Pablo Montoya gets new crew chief

By Pete Pistone

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing announced Juan Pablo Montoya would have his third crew chief in the last year at the beginning of the 2012 season.

Chris Heroy has been named crew chief of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet replacing Jim Pohlman, who had taken the position from Brian Pattie during last season.

“We are very excited to bring Chris into the organization and to have him work with Juan Pablo,” said Team Owner Chip Ganassi.  “We think he will be a great addition to the Target team and believe his combined engineering and crew chief background should help him work well with both our engineers and competition folks to move our program forward.  He has a great reputation in the industry and we are happy to bring him into the mix.”

Heroy joins Earnhardt Ganassi Racing from Hendrick Motorsports where he began in 2004, most recently as lead engineer on the No. 5 car for six of the previous seven years.  The other year he held the same role on the No. 88.  In addition, he was paired with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson as crew chief in a number or their Nationwide Series races during the 2011 season.  Prior to his time with Hendrick Motorsports Heroy was an engineer in the Toyota Atlantic Series for five seasons. He is a graduate of Colorado College and he and his wife Renee reside in Charlotte, NC.

“I am really looking forward to working with the guys in the shop at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing to help the 42 improve their performance,” said Heroy.  “Juan Pablo is a great driver and they have a lot of great people here, so I am thrilled to get this opportunity.”

Pohlman, who took over the No. 42 team at the end of July, will remain with the organization.

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Posted on: October 13, 2011 3:46 pm
 

Montoya inducted into Miami Hall of Champions

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

MIAMI—In honor of “lifetime contributions to sports,” South Florida resident and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Juan Pablo Montoya has been selected for induction into the Miami Sports Hall of Champions. Montoya will be inducted Wednesday, Oct. 19, during ceremonies at the 20th Annual Sports Hall of Champions Awards at American Airlines Arena in Miami. The Hall of Champions, in conjunction with the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, honors individuals who have brought “significant recognition to Greater Miami through achievements in, and contributions to, sports and the competitive spirit of the local community.”

“Juan Pablo is an important member of the South Florida racing family,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer. “His success in various racing disciplines and his signature no-holds-barred style of racing makes him one of racing’s greatest drivers. He is an international motorsports superstar who makes his home in South Florida—perfect ‘home track’ matches for Homestead-Miami Speedway and the Miami Sports Hall of Champions.”

Past inductees of the Sports Hall of Champions include: Dan Marino, Joe DiMaggio, Muhammad Ali, Don Shula, Alonzo Mourning and Greg Louganis. Along with Montoya, the 2011 induction class includes: pro football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, former Florida Marlins manager Jack McKeon, Olympic speed skater Jennifer Rodriguez, and Miami Heat analysts Tony “The Coach” Fiorentino and Eric Reid

To be eligible for consideration for the Sports Hall of Champions induction, an individual must have: a) gained/maintained fame in sports as a player, coach or executive; b) made significant contributions to the betterment of sports in the South Florida community; and c) either be a native South Floridian, or have achieved recognition in local sports and in the community.

Montoya is in just his fifth full-time year in NASCAR after dominating the open-wheel racing circuit, where he won a CART Championship, the Indianapolis 500 and seven Formula 1 races, (including the famed Monaco Grand Prix). A Miami resident since 2006, the Colombian native made motorsports history in 2009 as the first foreign-born driver ever to qualify for NASCAR’s Chase For The Sprint Cup.

Homestead-Miami Speedway, for the third consecutive year, is partnering with Montoya to create “Race Day with Juan Pablo Montoya”—an exclusive meet-and-greet opportunity prior to the Nov. 20 Sprint Cup Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This exclusive package benefits the Formula Smiles Foundation. 

Juan Pablo and Connie Montoya are committed to fighting Colombia’s indigence through sports and education.  The Formula Smiles Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for Colombian children in vulnerable situations by way of complementing a child’s education with participation in sports to reinforce classroom lessons; raising motivation to continue in school; gaining appreciation for the valuable use of free time; learning essential values that improve self esteem; and incentivizing kids to stay off the streets, and away from drugs and violence.

Among Formula Smiles’ fundraising efforts is the Nov. 17 “BeLive” benefit at the Ritz-Carlton Miami Beach on the eve of NASCAR’s Ford Championship Weekend at Montoya’s “home track” of Homestead-Miami Speedway. “BeLive” is attended each year by more than 500 international guests; including NASCAR celebrities, and luminaries in the world of music and fashion. Activities for the gala include dinner, a silent auction, and a fashion show. 

 
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Posted on: August 24, 2011 3:51 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 10:25 am
 

2012 plans still on hold for many

By Pete Pistone

  Carl Edwards Drives
(Edwards will stay at Roush Fenway Racing but who will sponsor the No. 99 entry in 2012?)

When Carl Edwards signed to stay at Roush Fenway Racing the general consensus was the dominoes throughout the rest of the garage area would begin to fall. 

But so far “Silly Season” has been nothing more than “Snoring Season” with not much else announced for 2012 driver, team and sponsor line-ups. 

Danica Patrick will formally announce her Nationwide Series intentions to run a full year with JR Motorsports in a day or so but the other part of her NASCAR move isn’t as locked down. 

There’s anticipation Patrick will also compete in a handful of Sprint Cup Series races with Stewart-Haas Racing next season but as of last week in Michigan that was news to team owner Tony Stewart. 

“It’s like I’ve always said when we have something to tell everybody we’ll tell them but there’s nothing to tell yet,” Stewart snapped at reporters when questioned on the proposed alignment. “I know there’s a lot of speculation but there is nothing to really talk about yet.” 

Patrick’s part-time Cup program is far from the only plans still up in the air. 

Clint Bowyer would like nothing more than to extend his contract with Richard Childress Racing but despite both the driver and owner publicly admitting their desire to remain together, nothing has been announced. 

Bowyer has tried to put on a brave face but the distraction of trying to finalize his future while concentrating on the current Cup effort isn’t an easy one. 

“It is what it is,” Bowyer said before last week’s Michigan race. “That’s, unfortunately, part of this business every three years, but right now I’m focused on these next four races. I care about the future, but I’ve got to set that aside and focus on getting myself in the Chase.” 

The reported hold-up is around finding necessary sponsorship for the RCR No. 33 entry, which will lose General Mills at the end of this season. Current Steven Wallace Nationwide Series sponsor 5-Hour Energy continues to be in the mix as a potential replacement but right now there is no agreement. 

The same scenario stares David Ragan in the face. The resurgent Roush Fenway Racing driver has been impressive during his summer stretch, which has included a career first Cup win at Daytona Independence Day weekend. But sponsor UPS hold the cards and Roush Fenway Racing is still hoping to keep the company in the fold and in turn Ragan behind the wheel of its No. 6 Ford. 

"What I think about is what I can control," Ragan said a few weeks ago. "I do think about (the future) some, because I've had a great time with UPS and I feel like we have a good relationship and a good thing going and I look for it to continue, but that is something that the management at Roush and UPS will work on. 

"Hopefully, I can uphold my end of the deal and keep that Ford up front." 

Ragan and UPS are not the only sponsorship challenges for the Roush organization with only Greg Biffle’s 3M backing locked down on the No. 16 entry. Matt Kenseth’s ride is without a full-time commitment for 2012 and even prized free agent Edwards doesn’t have a complete season worth of funding for his car. 

Aflac is expected back in a limited role but the Michigan garage area was rampant with rumors Home Depot, who reportedly coveted having Edwards as its spokesperson had he made the move to Joe Gibbs Racing, might find its way to the 99 car. 

The home improvement giant has been a staple of the JGR sponsor stable for years, dating back to its two Sprint Cup championships with Tony Stewart. However since Joey Logano took over the ride from the departed Stewart, the struggling performance level for the young driver has forced Home Depot management to watch arch rival Lowes grab the spotlight for five years running with Jimmie Johnson’s title runs. Some restlessness within Home Depot’s corporate offices would be more than understandable. 

Sponsorship doesn’t appear to be an issue for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Target said to be staying on the No. 42 Chevrolet. However Juan Pablo Montoya has yet to be inked to a contract extension on his deal that runs out at season’s end. The former Indy 500 winner does expect the process to become a formality in short order. 

"We're pretty close. I think we're pretty close, yeah," said Montoya. "We'll see. When it's ready you will know." 

One other major piece of the “Silly Season” puzzle lies with the Team Red Bull organization and the two seats currently occupied by Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers. 

Kahne is headed to Hendrick Motorsports for its No. 5 entry in 2012 but Vickers’ future is very uncertain even if team general manager Jay Frye is able to find investors to keep the organization afloat after Red Bull ceases its ownership stake.

The possibility of Red Bull staying in NASCAR, either with the new team or with another organization, remains alive but several sources familiar with the company say the longer time passes the less likely the company inking a sponsorship-only deal becomes.

In the past most of the maneuverings and signings for the following campaign were put to bed by this time in the season. But not in today’s NASCAR, where the continued rough economy and its impact on sponsorship continues to keep some major players in a state of flux.

For more NASCAR news, rumors and analysis, follow @ppistone on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 

 

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com