2012 Ride: No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
2012 Primary Sponsors: Banana Boat, Bass Pro Shops, Belkin, Liftmaster, McDonald’s
2012 Owners: Teresa Earnhardt & Chip Ganassi
2012 Crew Chief: Kevin “Bono” Manion
Stats: 36 Races, 0 wins, 0 top 5s, 3 top 10s, 4 DNFs, 21st in Points.
Best Finish: 7th — Bristol. (Spring race)
Average Finish: 20.1.
2012 Team Ranking: 1st of 2. This one is almost a moot point. Teammate Juan Pablo Montoya finished one place behind McMurray in the overall standings so advantage, Jamie – just barely. But no one’s picking up any awards here.
High Point: The final lap of the final race? After a dismal 2011 campaign for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, team principal Chip Ganassi described it as follows: “I don’t need to get philosophical about it, we were 21st and 27th in the standings. That’s pathetic for a team with our ability and our resources.” However, that same statement can simply be applied to 2012 which was an equally “pathetic” year for McMurray, Montoya and the entire organization. McMurray was less than sanguine in August, explaining, “We haven’t had a very good year, but our cars haven’t been very fast. Juan and I run within 50 feet of each other every single week. We’ve got to get our cars better.” They never did.
If one had to choose, McMurray looked like the dominant car at Talladega this October, leading 38 laps. But even that promising run, during this awful year was wiped out by a late-race accident that left him out of contention.
Low Point: I’m going to keep this short and sweet because there isn’t really any other way to put this one. The low point for McMurray started with the drop of the green flag for the Daytona 500 and only finished when he took the checkers at Homestead-Miami Speedway in late November. The year started off slowly, with back-to-back DNFs at Daytona and Phoenix and he never dug out of that hole.
Summary: Nothing to see here, people, except lots of mediocrity. That’s perhaps the best, and most succinct summary of McMurray’s 2012 campaign. Early on, he posted an eighth-place run at Las Vegas in the third race of the season, then followed it up with a season-best, seventh-place result in the Spring race at Bristol. That’s about as good as it got; the driver never cracked the top 15 in points the rest of the year, struggling along with an organization which never seemed to have the proper chemistry. A slew of offseason changes, including the removal of longtime decisionmakers Tony Glover and Steve Hmiel did nothing to spark a resurgence.
McMurray notched a 10th-place run in the first Pocono race and that, folks was about that. The final totals were nothing short of brutal; only 58 laps led, just 17 lead-lap finishes and never a sniff of the Chase. It was the first time since debuting on the Cup circuit, in 2002 that McMurray went an entire year without a top-5 result.
Off Track News: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing will no longer partner with Richard Childress Racing for engines, moving instead to a partnership with Hendrick Motorsports. Unspecified changes are also in the works as the team looks to reinvent itself for the coming season; financially, McDonald’s is expected to take on a larger role as main backer Bass Pro Shops has decided to sponsor Tony Stewart’s No. 14 car.
2013 Outlook: Who can tell, to be honest after two horribly subpar seasons? The hope with the new engine supplier is that McMurray (and Montoya) will run better but that, of course remains to be seen. McMurray and crew chief “Bono” Manion were great together at first, winning the Daytona 500 and two other races in 2010. However, at the moment, their pairing looks stale and without dramatic improvement, 2013 could be the last year for both in their current roles at EGR.
2011 Frontstretch.com Grade: D.
2012 Grade: D.
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