Look at that photo there. Two gentlemen so happy in their happiness. Chip Ganassi and Jamie McMurray reveling in McMurray's win at the 2010 Brickyard 400. And they thought the fine times would never end ...
Oh, what a difference a year can make. McMurray and teammate Juan Pablo Montoya are flailing, with only the barest mathematical chance of making the Chase. And Ganassi is, in his own words, "heartbroken" at how Earnhardt Ganassi's fortunes have turned.
In an interview that aired Tuesday on SPEED's NASCAR Race Hub, Ganassi couldn't contain his disappointment with how a once-promising team now finds itself a lap down.
"We lost our way a bit," he said. "A year ago, we had the best cars. A year ago, we had the best engines ... It's a cycle thing and I'd like to think we're in the bottom of the cycle right now. We have some work to do."
Ganassi absolved both drivers from blame: "It's plain and simple. You can look at the numbers. We're not giving them the equipment they need to be at the front that's equal to the other people's equipment right now. It's our job. Both of our guys are capable of being in the Chase. We just haven't given them the right equipment to do it with. It's on us, believe me."
On the other hand, he's not quite so diplomatic regarding now-departed 42 crew chief Brian Pattie ("I think Brian has a lot of talent, but like a lot of people, there are some places he needs some work") and offers up a quick-and-dirty take on the state of racing today ("It's good. It's good racing. It's damn good racing. It's just damn hard, too.")
Montoya's best chance at a win comes this week at Watkins Glen, while McMurray still has his old pal Talladega on the slate.