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Montoya to drive in IndyCar next year for Team Penske

Sep 16, 2013, 11:54 AM EDT

Cheez-It 355 - Qualifying Getty Images

NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Juan Pablo Montoya will be returning to open-wheel racing after all. But who could’ve predicted that he’d be suiting up for Roger Penske?

Earlier today, Penske Racing announced that Montoya, the 1999 CART champion and the 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner, will take the controls of the No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet in the IZOD IndyCar Series on a full-time basis in 2014 – joining current series points leader Helio Castroneves and Will Power.

Montoya has spent the last seven seasons in Sprint Cup, but was recently informed that he would not return to Earnhardt Ganassi Racing next season. He had been linked to a possible IndyCar ride with Andretti Autosport, as well as a new Sprint Cup drive with Furniture Row Racing, which is losing Kurt Busch at season’s end.

But this past week, Montoya informed Andretti Autosport that he would not join them. Instead, he and “The Captain” will team up in what could prove to be a major overall boost, both on the track and off, for INDYCAR.

“I am really excited to join this legendary team beginning next year,” Montoya said in a statement. “I have had the opportunity to drive for some of the best racing teams in the world and I have always admired Roger Penske and his organization. I consider it an honor to be offered the opportunity to drive for Team Penske.”

In his own thoughts, Penske was equally cordial to Montoya.

“Juan is a proven winner at all levels of motorsport,” he said. “He has won a lot of races and championships and he has an extremely passionate fan base. We look forward to building on his successes together and we believe he will be a great addition to Team Penske.”

Following his success with Target Chip Ganassi Racing in CART, Montoya hopped the pond to Formula One, where he would compete with Williams (2001-2004) and then McLaren (2005-2006). After a six-year run in F1 that saw him capture seven Grand Prix wins, he made the massive switch to stock car racing full-time in 2007 with Ganassi’s NASCAR program.

Montoya was hyped considerably as a potential hook for NASCAR to grab the coveted Latino/Hispanic market. But while he’s been able to notch a pair of Sprint Cup wins (both on road courses), he’s been unable to truly escape mid-pack status in the series. He’s only made the Chase once, back in 2009, when he finished eighth in the championship.

But now, Montoya has a chance to revitalize his career. He’ll likely face a learning curve with the new-to-him Dallara DW12 upon his return to IndyCar, but one assumes that with his talent and the environment at Team Penske, he can get up to speed again before too long.

  1. wallio - Sep 16, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    You really have to put them as one of the title favorites for 2014.

  2. midtec2005 - Sep 16, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    Well I didn’t see this coming…. but it’s exciting!

  3. Matthew - Sep 16, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    Reblogged this on Carolina Mountain Blue and commented:
    This is pretty exciting news…I mean, you’ve got Juan Pablo joining forces with the Captain; how can that NOT be exciting?

  4. Jeff - Sep 16, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    Says a lot that he didn’t go with Andretti Autosport but he did with Penske.

  5. bigmattintheboot - Sep 16, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    My favorite part about this besides seeing JPM hooked up with Captain, is that he’s going from driving a Chevy to driving….a Chevy – love seeing good wheelmen behind bowties. He’s been gaining momentum his last season in Cup and nuts to anyone who says otherwise, I can only hope he carries that to the open wheel circuit.

    Curious what will happen once the Rolex 24 comes around, if he will race there and if so under whose banner? Still moonlight for Chip in a non-Penske attended series a couple times a year? By the way where’s all the rest of the posters who’ve jumped ship from SPEED’s defunct commentless FS1 blogsite like me to come here where things make much more sense?

    • midtec2005 - Sep 17, 2013 at 9:34 AM

      With the lack of phantom cautions and wwe style rules making JPM may have a better chance at winning races too.

  6. drylake - Sep 16, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    You lose TK but gain JPM. Glass half full.

  7. lesovuls - Sep 18, 2013 at 2:28 AM

    Jet dryers have been warned

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