Media Tour Stop No. 1: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing

The media tour kicked off with a lunch and a visit from Earnhardt Ganassi Racing (although there was no one named "Earnhardt" at the function).

No one really expected Teresa Earnhardt to show up (I mean, that's asking a lot, right?), but the media was visited by the Energizer Bunny, shown a demonstration of Energizer headlamps and was informed of a LiftMaster sponsorship via an opening garage door.

So there's that.

For the first 30 minutes (it seemed like longer), Ganassi trotted out sponsor representatives who stiffly read from prepared remarks. This was as boring as it sounds, and left many in the room staring off into space or burying their heads in their phones.

Finally breaking the ice about 50 minutes into the event, Jamie McMurray was credited the first good line of the day. He told a story about one of the coolest moments of his impressive 2010 season, recalling how when he walked into the Charlotte media center after winning his third race of the year, the media wasn't surprised like they'd been when he won Daytona and Indy.

He liked that feeling.

Juan Pablo Montoya, looking more slender than last year (but saying he hadn't lost any weight), was convincing in stating his case for making the Chase in 2011. He noted what an awful start his No. 42 team endured – with many wrecks not of his doing – that led to ultimately missing the playoff last year.

Ganassi's engine alliance with Richard Childress Racing has resulted in some very powerful motors, and it's not a stretch to think both McMurray and Montoya could make the Chase this season.

To that end, team co-owner Felix Sabates predicted his two cars would not only make the Chase, but said both would contend for the championship.

The best news of the event came when Steve Hmiel – father of injured racer Shane Hmiel – told reporters that his son could make a full recovery from a racing accident if therapy went as planned. Hmiel detailed his son's surgeries and said much progress had been made since incident occurred in an October USAC practice.

We're on the bus now and headed to the next stop: Stewart-Haas Racing.

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