Montoya supports Ganassi's decision to close team
Juan Pablo Montoya supported owner Chip Ganassi's decision to shutter Dario Franchitti's race team, believing it was for the betterment of the organization.
"I think the big picture people need to understand is we did this to make ourselves better," Montoya said. "Short-term, people might think the team is crazy. But if we didn't do this, we were never going to get any better."
Ganassi pulled the plug on the No. 40 team last week because he'd been unable to secure sponsorship for Franchitti, the Scottish driver who was struggling through his first season in NASCAR. The 2007 Indianapolis 500 winner and IndyCar Series champion missed five races with a broken ankle, failed to qualify for two others and was 41st in the standings when Ganassi pulled the plug.
Because he was funding the car out of his own pocket, Ganassi said he had to stop running the team or risk damaging Montoya and teammate Reed Sorenson's seasons. Montoya is 21st in the standings and Sorenson is 32nd.
Had Ganassi continued running the No. 40, Montoya said he worried about the long-term affects it would have on Ganassi's entire NASCAR operation.
"It's rough because, the way I looked at it, it was keep it running and two years down the line shut down the whole team," Montoya said. "Or do something about it now and make sure we're running better. I am sure once we start running good again, he'll find money to run a third car.
"But today, we're not running the way we need to be running and it never helped running a car with no sponsorship."
As long as Franchitti was outside the top-35 -- the point where cars are not ensured a spot in the field -- Montoya felt Ganassi would not be able to land a sponsor.
"They were never 100 percent certain the car was going to make the race, so I think that was really hard," Montoya said. "There's always the question of how much longer can you actually go before you make the decision, and I think Chip did the best he could to try to run that car all year.
"But they wouldn't be able to find a full-time sponsor for that car, that was the thing that did it in." SI.com