Right before Homestead it was announcement that 33 year old and 3 time cup winner Jamie McMurray would be reuniting with Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates at Earnhardt Ganassi racing.
McMurray was left out to dry thanks to NASCAR mandating the car count a team could have to 4 and his #26 had no sponsorship while the 6 car of David Ragan who finished 27th in points with 0 top fives, 2 top tens, and 3 laps led will be around in 2010 due to sponsorship from UPS.
What is now Earnhardt Ganassi with Felix Sabates is not how McMurray left it. When McMurray left it his number 42 Texaco Havoline dodge was a chase contender but always fell short. Missing out on 2 occasions (one due to a points penalty and the other due to getting taken out at Richmond). His teammates Casey Mears and Sterling Marlin were top 20 teams at best.
Now with Juan Pablo Montoya in the 42 and the 42 being a Chevrolet, and the chase now taking 12, Montoya was a championship contender in the 42, coming close to winning races (Indy comes to mind) and being as high as 3rd in points before slipping back to 8th. He also won 2 poles.
Despite a late start for the 1 car, they made huge strides late in the season becoming one of the more consistent teams. They had 1 pole, 1 top five, 3 top tens, and 4 top fifteens in the last 5 races. They were running top ten at Talladega before Martin Truex Jr was involved in the bigone. He also won 3 poles.
Earnhardt Ganassi overall has made huge strides in their race teams to become an organization that can contend with the Hendricks, Gibbs, Stewart Haas's, and Roushs of the racing world.
The team already announced that they are bringing 3 brand new racecars to Daytona and then more brand new racecars will follow at Auto Club, Vegas and other tracks. This team will not sit on the respectful laurels and will do what they need to do.
McMurray has a tremendous opportunity to finally live up to his potential. He is no more the 4th/5th driver on a team, it is arguable that he is back to being #1 at Ganassi, he is getting more attention to detail around the shop, more up to date chassis and racecars where as at Roush he raced outdated chassis most of his years there and in 2009 had only 2 new racecars one of which he won with at Talladega.
McMurray will be testing Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at New Sryma with his new team in what team manger Steve Hmeil calls a "dress rehearsal." It will be vital for McMurray and Kevin "Bono" Manion to build up a good line of communication to ensure success in 2010.
2010 will be a career defining moment for McMurray. He stepped up when he needed to at Talladega to lead the most laps and win the race, now he must step up, make the chase (or at the worst 15th in points) win more than just 1 race every other season,and become a serious championship contender. He will have the cars, the attention, and he has the talent, time to use it to his advantage. If it all works out, watch for the 1 team in 2010.