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NASCAR NEWS 

Juan Pablo Montoya confident of strong start to NASCAR Cup

Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 2013 NASCAR Cup

Juan Pablo Montoya is convinced that Earnhardt Ganassi Racing will start the NASCAR Sprint Cup season in far better shape than it began 2012.

The ex-Formula 1 frontrunner endured one of his worst Cup seasons last year, finishing 22nd overall and only registering two top-10 results in 36 races. Team-mate Jamie McMurray also struggled, ending the year in 21st.

Montoya believes the team has learnt from its plight and is sure it will be a more competitive force over the coming campaign.

"Honestly it's hard to put in words, but we're so much further ahead," he said. "We're on the same page now.

"It took us a long time last year to get there. One week I couldn't get up to speed because the car was so loose, then the next week we were so tight I wouldn't even make the corner.

"We were so far apart in thoughts and work that it took us a long time to get together, but as time went on I think we put ourselves on the same page and I think it really paid off."

Montoya also predicted that NASCAR's new Gen-6 car regulations, and a switch to engine suppliers from Earnhardt Childress Racing to Hendrick Motorsports will play into the hands of EGR.

"I think the Gen-6 car helped a little bit, "he explained. "I think it took away a lot of things people had and put us on a more level playing field. It made us catch up a lot more.

"Going to the Hendrick motor also helps, so I think there are a lot of things going for us."

The Cup season gets underway with the Daytona 500 on February 24, while the 2013 curtain-raiser, the made-for-television Sprint Unlimited, will be held a week earlier.

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