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From the Marbles

2012 season in the rear view: Juan Pablo Montoya

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles

Vitals: 22nd in the points standings. 0 wins, 0 top 5s, 2 top 10s. 5 DNFs.

Moment to remember: Oh, gee, what could it be?

Even if Juan Pablo Montoya won the 2012 Sprint Cup Series title, nothing was going to top the jet dryer incident at Daytona in February. Nothing. And Montoya obviously didn't win the championship, so nothing was really a close second either.

So when it comes to performance on the box score (the blaze was performance art at its finest), the highlight of Montoya's season are the back-to-back poles that he scored at Pocono at Watkins Glen in August. But, as Montoya's 2012 tended to go, they lead us directly into the next section.

Moment to forget: Those two poles could have been a great launching point for Montoya to grab a win, jump into the top 20 and suddenly be in the discussion for a Chase wild card berth over the final three races of the regular season. But instead, Montoya finished 20th at Pocono and then 33rd at Watkins Glen after issues with his left front tire. And it wasn't like Montoya was at the front for very long in each of those races. He led a combined eight laps.

The wrap: Chip Ganassi made some personnel switches at Earnhardt Ganassi before the season, including putting Chris Heroy atop Montoya's pit box for the season, and hinted that there could be more on the way if the team's performance didn't pick up. And it didn't. Teammate Jamie McMurray was just one spot ahead of Montoya in the standings.

The team announced that it would field Hendrick engines next year, switching from Earnhardt-Childress Racing engines. Will the powerplant swap be a catalyst for an uptick in performance in 2013? Or is there more to Earnhardt-Ganassi's struggles?

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