"Hopefully this is the last time I have to say we finished 21st and 27th in points last year," said Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing team owner Chip Ganassi during the second day of NASCAR pre-season media activity. "That's just pathetic for a team with our ability and our resources. Simple as that."

2011 is certainly a year that Ganassi, the team and its drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray will be keen to see firmly in the rear-view mirror. No wins for either driver, and just two top-fives and eight top-10s for Montoya. But how is Ganassi going to ensure that 2012 is any different?

"After last year, we had to start over in a lot of areas," said Ganassi in his trademark blunt, no-nonsense way. "You either have it or you don't ... If you're working, good. If you're not, you'd better make some changes."

EGR has said goodbye to veterans Steve Hmiel, Ed Nathman and Tony Glover, and brought in Chris Heroy as Montoya's new crew chief, John Probst as technical director and Max Jones as head of competition.

"These two cars are probably the best-funded cars in the garage," said new arrival Max Jones. "Chip provides the team with everything they need. You have great drivers in Jamie and Juan. We should be able to put all the pieces together and win races."

"It's just a matter of putting the right people in place and letting them do their job," explained Ganassi of the sweeping changes he's made throughout the team during the off-season. "It was obviously time to make a change. We took a big swipe at it. I'm certainly happy with the people we have. If more changes need to be done, we'll do that as well."

He's sticking with his drivers, though - at least for the time being. There had been rumours that Montoya in particular was unhappy with the competitiveness of EGR last year and had cast around for a seat elsewhere - with Red Bull Racing a particular possibility, before the shock news of its closure emerged during the summer put paid to any such possibility.

Now, Montoya seems happy that he's re-signed with his long-time mentor and that things are looking up for them both

"I know it's very early, but you can see the changes. You can see there's a direction where we're going. The team is heading somewhere," said Montoya. "Sometimes before it was like: 'What are we doing?' There were a lot of long faces and no answers. Now there's a direction, and there's so much potential."

"Like so many other sports, racing's about momentum. We want to start out fast, and certainly success can breed success," said Ganassi. "As for 2012, the great thing is you get to start all over again," he continued.

"The one thing about sports is that it's constantly changing. You have to change with it and you have to change fast. I like to think I can shift gears and change directions as fast as anybody."

Ganassi revealed that despite the disappointing season just gone, the team were doing well when it came to attracting sponsorship and have already sold all primary space on their two cars, so much so that a third car had even been a realistic possibility - financially speaking at least.

"As tough as the sponsorship market is today, that's probably still the easiest part of the puzzle", he said, but added that he wouldn't consider adding another car to the lineup until the overall level was raised up where he wanted it. "I'm going to be back in the mode where we need to get these two cars running right before we start thinking about a third," he said.

Most importantly of all, a poor 2011 hasn't done anything to dampen Ganassi's enthusiasm for the sport: "I live for racing, there's no place I'd rather be than at a race track," he said. "I like being around our drivers. I like being around our teams. I like hanging out with these new guys. They'll have to get used to me calling them at seven, eight, nine o'clock at night wanting to talk about racing - because that's all I like to do!"

But another "pathetic" year like 2011 and a repeat of those 21st and 27th place finishes was just not acceptable. "I think it's about time to put some numbers up," Ganassi concluded.


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