Juan Pablo Montoya says a new deal with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing is close as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver market continues to settle.
The Colombian is in the final year of his contract with the team that lured him from Formula 1 in 2006 and talks toward a new multi-year deal have been under way for many months. On Friday at Sonoma, where NASCAR's top series competes this weekend, he said he expects to continue to race for Chip Ganassi again in 2012.
"We're pretty close. I think we're pretty close, yeah," said Montoya, when asked about a new Ganassi deal. "We'll see. When it's ready you will know."
Montoya is currently in his fifth full Cup season. He has won twice at NASCAR's top level thus far, both victories coming on road courses (Sears Point 2007, Watkins Glen 2010) while a first win on an oval has come close a number of times at Indianapolis, Talladega and Pocono, where he has finished second.
Besides his Cup wins Montoya has also won in the Nationwide Series for Ganassi, plus back-to-back wins in the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2007 and 2009.
The 35-year-old claimed a spot in the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup, in which he ran strong early on, finishing the season eighth in the points. He currently ranks 15th in the standings more than halfway through the 2011 regular season and remains confident his team can be a play-off contender again this year.
"I think we can still make the Chase by being in the top 10," said Montoya. "We have a car that is capable of doing that. I think if we make good calls in the next few weeks we should be pretty good. If we get a win here [at Sears Point], yeah, I think it would be great. But two really clear chances of victory here or Watkins, it's exciting.
He added: "I think if you are in the top 15 or 16 in points and you get a win you are going to be in the Chase."
With Montoya staying at Ganassi, Carl Edwards is currently the main free agent in the Cup series. Although he is expected to remain at Roush Fenway Racing, discussions are still ongoing between the current points leader and the Ford outfit, while Joe Gibbs Racing has been rumored to be another option for the former Nationwide Series champion.
"As far as my contract status, it is the same as the beginning of the year," said Edwards. "We are working hard on it and we do all that stuff behind closed doors. We are making progress and hopefully we will be able to tell you guys what my plan is soon.
"I have heard rumors about all different teams for the last two years. The thing I am going to do is keep working on it and working on it privately. I think that is the best way for me. Jack [Roush] has done a lot for me and I am proud to drive for Jack and to drive a Ford. We have had 19 wins in the Cup series and 30-something in the Nationwide series. It is great."
Richard Childress Racing's Clint Bowyer is working on securing a new deal with his squad but sponsorship deals have still to be put in place in order to lock down a new multi-year renewal with the team.