Well, here’s one for the NASCAR silly season file. According to team sources who told the Associated Press, Juan Pablo Montoya won’t be back at Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates for 2014.
Montoya’s NASCAR career has been largely underwhelming with only two wins and one Chase for the Sprint Cup appearance (eighth in 2009) since his then-shock decision to leave Formula One midway through 2006. He’s spent his entire Sprint Cup career with CGR, first in the Havoline, then Target No. 42.
He also had a successful two-year run with Ganassi in IndyCar before heading to F1. He won the 1999 CART championship as a rookie, and took the 2000 Indianapolis 500 victory a year later.
The speculation will now begin in earnest as to who could replace Montoya in the 42. Ryan Newman’s a free agent and this could be a potential landing spot for him. Kurt Busch? Possibly for the Furniture Row Racing driver, although you’d expect he’ll stay put after needing to change teams each of the last two seasons.
Logical speculation though would lead you to think Kyle Larson, Ganassi’s prized developmental driver, will play a role in the proceedings. He could either be promoted full-time or as part of a ride share with a veteran. Either way, expect that with this news, Larson’s chances of making a Sprint Cup race cameo later this year will increase substantially.
Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.
Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.
“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”
Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”