After 2 subpar seasons, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing looking to bounce back

Tom Pennington

Few NASCAR teams enter the offseason with more work to do than Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, which for the second consecutive year failed to win a race. Today's offseason analysis series focuses on what the team needs to do to get back to Victory Lane .

2012 In The Rearview

After failing to meet expectations in 2011, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing went through an overhaul prior to last season and jettisoned some longtime personnel.

Yet, those changes weren't enough, as EGR struggled with Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya combining to post just five top 10 finishes. And really, the only thing that stood out as a highlight (if you want to call it that) for the team was Montoya's fiery encounter with a jet dryer during the Daytona 500 -- which further underlines just how much EGR underperformed in 2012.

2013 Driver Lineup

Jamie McMurray (No. 1 McDonald's Chevrolet); Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Target Chevrolet).

Key Changes

Somewhat surprising considering the lack of success, EGR will be keeping the same driver/crew chief tandems for 2013. That doesn't mean there aren't big changes under way, as the organization is switching from Earnhardt Childress horsepower to getting its motors from Hendrick Motorsports -- an engine package that in 2012 won 14 races.

Biggest Offseason Question

Chip Ganassi has won everything there is to win in IndyCar racing and, though it isn't for lack of effort, on the NASCAR side of things his team is perpetual underachievers.

In the case of McMurray and Montoya, while both have won races -- and in Montoya's case even made the Chase -- neither has demonstrated the necessary wins to be considered a factor on a year-to-year basis.

All of which means, after moving a bunch of pieces behind the scenes the last couple of years, it might be time for Ganassi to take the evaluation process to the next level and give serious thought to whether he has the right drivers in place. This is a team that should perform better than it has. If that means drastic measures have to be taken, so be it.

Outlook

It wouldn't be a shocker if EGR found a way to be competitive in 2013 and maybe even wins a couple of races. After all, there is past precedence for this happening -- remember McMurray's stunning Daytona 500 victory in 2010 later followed by wins at Indianapolis and Charlotte?

Then again, it's hard to be confident about an organization coming off a season where its two cars finished no better than sixth. And as of now, if the results aren't there soon, significant changes will be forthcoming.

In short, EGR won't be as bad as it was last year, but it still has a way to go to compete with the upper-echelon teams in the garage.

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