A broken trailing arm on the rear suspension of Juan Pablo Montoya's Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Impala was the cause for his fiery collision with a NASCAR jet blower during Monday's Daytona 500.
EGR officials confirmed that one of the pieces connecting the rear axle to the chassis broke and caused Montoya's car to spin out of control while the Colombian drove along the backstretch under caution. This caused him to make contact with the track-drying truck.
Montoya's teammate Jamie McMurray was later involved in a separate incident and claimed he suspected a similar problem on his car caused him to spin in the closing laps. However, team officials say that a deflating rear tire was to blame.
Both EGR teammates had raced conservatively and avoided running in the pack for most of the distance. While Montoya's crash took place under caution and following a number of pit stops to check an ill-handling car, McMurray was running toward the front of the pack when he spun on lap 188.
"Most importantly, I'm happy that both Juan and the driver of the jet dryer are OK," Chip Ganassi told the Pittsburg Tribune. "I was very happy with both of our teams, because they used our pre-race strategy perfectly. We looked to stay in the back until later in the race to try to avoid some of the craziness that happens in restrictor-plate races. We were just moving toward the front."
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing entered Daytona events following a number of personnel changes over the winter, which included the hiring of a new technical director, a new team manager, plus other major changes on the No. 42 car crew lineup.
Despite the unfortunate outcome of the season opener, Ganassi says he is pleased with the progress made following what he called a "pathetic" performance in 2011.
"Unfortunately, those things happen," Ganassi added. "But I must say I'm pleased with the progress we have made. I still feel we were among the best cars during all of Speedweeks."
While Montoya was credited with 36th place, McMurray, who won Ganassi's first Daytona 500 two years ago, was classified 31st.