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DATE News (chronologically)
01/09/08
nascar
Ganassi puts pressure on Montoya  Chip Ganassi was careful to couch expectations on Juan Pablo Montoya last season, when the former Formula One star began his first full year in NASCAR.

Now that the rookie stripe is off Montoya’s bumper, the car owner is ready for results. Ganassi didn’t back down Wednesday from the

“Chase or bust” declaration he made late last season, insisting he expects the Colombian driver to compete for the Sprint Cup championship this year.

“It’s Chase or bust, and in a macro-sense I mean it,” Ganassi said. “Yes, it’s a lot of pressure, but that’s what this business is about. We’re not in the Wizard of Oz, you know.” It’s a stark contrast from what Ganassi preached this time last year, when he cautioned observers not to expect miracles from Montoya. The switch from sleek, sophisticated F1 cars to the boxy, bulky stock cars was going to be a wild transition, and he insisted Montoya’s unique talent level wouldn’t insulate him from frequent struggles.

So the car owner tempered expectations at every turn, even after Montoya delivered the winning car in the prestigious Rolex 24 sports car race. His performance in that event last January showed that he was getting the hang of different cars, and led many to believe Montoya might race out of the gates in NASCAR.

And in a sense he did, scoring his first NASCAR victory a little over a month into the season when he won on the road course in Mexico City. The bumps soon followed, though, and Montoya suffered through an eight-week stretch in which he failed to finish higher than 20th. When he turned it around, he scored his first Cup win on the road course at Sonoma.

It didn’t turn his season entirely around, but he weathered every twist and turn – including a minor shoving match with Kevin Harvick – to finish 20th in the points and earn Rookie of the Year honors.

Now Ganassi is demanding more out of the former Indianapolis 500 champion, but he doesn’t think his raised expectations will faze Montoya.

“This is not putting pressure on him, this kind of stuff doesn’t even get his attention,” Ganassi said. “Saying ‘Chase or bust’ isn’t going to speed him up or slow him down. This isn’t his first goat roping.” More at ThatsRacin.com
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