Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing With Felix Sabates kicks of 2012 with something many teams don’t have: full sponsorship for both of the team’s cars, driven by Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Target will return as primary sponsor for Montoya, with additional sponsorship from Energizer batteries, Clorox, Huggies, and Degree for Men. Bass Pro Shops and McDonald’s return to McMurray’s team, which also unveiled three additional paint schemes, including the Belkin Chevrolet that will run at Martinsville this spring and the red, black and silver LiftMaster Chevy that will be seen at Loudon later this year.
Joining McMurray’s team for the first time in 2012 is Banana Boat with a bright orange car reminiscent of the company’s sunscreen bottles. The Banana Boat Cool Zone car will make its racetrack debut at Pocono on June. The company will also have a Cool Zone for fans at ten races this year, when fans can enter a sweepstakes to meet McMurray and his team. Banana Boat will cover Chip Ganassi’s entire organization in 2012, also adorning the rear wing of IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti’s racecar.
With the money side taken care of, the talk heading into 2012 turns to performance. 2011 was a disappointing year for both Montoya and McMurray, who finished 21st and 27th in points. But nobody is panicking. Instead, owner Chip Ganassi made the commitment to improve, making sweeping changes within the organization in an effort to bring about improvement. Now, says Ganassi, it’s time to put those changes to the test-and make more changes if the team needs them
“It’s time to just go racing,” Ganassi told the media on Tuesday. “It’s a matter of putting the right people in place and letting them do their jobs. It was obviously time to make a change, and we took a big swipe at it…if more changes need to be done, we’ll make those as well.”
“It’s behind us,” echoed minority owner Felix Sabates, who added that what draws him to NASCAR is the people, both on the team and in the garage. “I own part of the Bobcats and you can’t compare that to racing people. When you go in the garage, you’re part of a big family”
Both Montoya and McMurray are also anxious to put 2011 in the rear view mirror. “There were a lot of distractions,” said Montoya. “The teams was headed the wrong way. Chip handled it well and hired a bunch of people. You can see the changes, and I can’t wait to get to the racetrack” Montoya.
“When you have a season like that it makes you appreciate what we had in 2010 and hopefully what we’re going to have this year…I think our excitement comes from the changes that we’ve seen. We’ve made a lot of changes to our cars,” McMurray added. McMurray won three times in 2010, including the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400.