There have been some major changes at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing in the offseason, and Jamie McMurray can only hope the result is a season that looks more like 2010 than 2011 for his No. 1 team.
After a thrilling 2010 campaign, in which McMurray won the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400 and the fall Charlotte race, his team was mostly uncompetitive in 2011. He finished 27th in points and had a career-low four top-10 finishes the entire season.
Team owner Chip Ganassi took action by dismissing competition director Steve Hmiel and team manager Tony Glover and bringing in former Red Bull technical director John Probst.
"The frustrating part is that we won races with the guys that were there before – won some really big races," McMurray said. "But I think the morale in the shop got way down, and everyone you know, you start criticizing everybody, and Chip needed to make a change to get everybody pumped back up."
When McMurray arrived at the team from Roush Fenway Racing, he remembers walking through the shop and seeing many of the employees take a personal stake in the organization's success.
"A guy (would be) grabbing a gas pedal and saying, 'Look, I built this gas pedal, and it's eight grams lighter than we what we had last year,'" McMurray recalled. "Every single person had that mindset in there of being proud of what they had built.
"We lost a little bit of that last year, because we were changing our car so much, it was something different every week."
McMurray said EGR has made its cars "much more adjustable" in the offseason and added the team will be "trying a lot of stuff" at the start of the season.
"I don't think you're going to see just immediate results because it's going to take a little time, and our speedway cars don't seem to be just where they need to be yet," he said. "But from my perspective looking at it, it seems much more organized and everyone seems to be behind us."