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Montoya Will Not Return To EGR In 2014

Juan Montoya during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona International Speedway on January 12, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. [1]Juan Montoya will not return to Earnhardt Ganassi Racing in 2014, according to the Associated Press. [2]

There has been no word on who will replace Montoya in the No. 42 or where Montoya is likely to end up. But, EGR developmental driver Kyle Larson could take over the No. 42. In 21 Nationwide Series races he has 12 Top 10s, including five Top 5s, and two second-place finishes.

Montoya has two Sprint Cup Series wins, one at Sonoma Raceway in 2007 and one at Watkins Glen International in 2010. During his eight-year career, he has earned 23 Tops 5s, and 56 Top 10s. But, this season he has only managed three Top 5s and eight Top 10s in 22 starts. That number is up from no Top 5s and only two Top 10s in 2012.

As it stands now, Richard Petty Motorsports could have two open seats with Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola only signed through the end of this season.

Richard Childress Racing also has a vacancy in the No. 29 Chevy, but Ryan Newman, who is leaving Stewart Haas Racing at season’s end [3] to make way for Kevin Harvick [4], is said to be the leading candidate for that ride.

Front Row Motorsports could have three vacancies as David Ragan, Josh Wise, and David Gilliland are all signed through 2013. Ragan seems most likely to stay with the team, as he won the Aaron’s 499 [5] at Talladega Superspeedway with the team this year.

JTG Daugherty could also be a candidate for Montoya’s services. But, AJ Allmendinger has been sharing the ride with Bobby Labonte [6], and all indications are that Allmendinger is the front runner for that seat [7].

Phoenix Racing, which was purchased by Turner-Scott Motorsports co-owner Harry Scott Jr [8], may have a vacancy. The team hasn’t disclosed its plans, but it could be in the market for a Cup driver in 2014.

Kurt Busch may be looking to leave Furniture Row Racing’s No. 78 team for a larger, multi-car operation. That could leave the No. 78 team as a potential destination for Montoya. Or, that team could expand to a two-car operation.

BK Racing could also have two vacancies, as David Reutimann and Travis Kvapil are both signed through this season.

Penske Racing fields two teams while Joe Gibbs Racing fields three. So either of them could expand to accommodate Montoya, but that would be contingent on sponsorship. At this point, there is no reason to think that is likely.

Another option for Montoya is to move to a sports car series or to make his return to open-wheeled racing. In CART, IndyCar, F3000, and Formula 1, Montoya has amassed 22 victories, including winning the F3000 championship in 1998 and the CART FedEx Championship in 1999, followed by an Indy 500 win in 2000. He’s also earned three wins in NASCAR’s Grand-Am Rolex Series.

Update: Rumors are circulating that Kurt Busch has been offered a multi-year deal to drive for Stewart Haas Racing [9]. If true, that could leave the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team looking for a driver for 2014.

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