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Montoya feels his stock car experience will help in IndyCar return

Sep 20, 2013, 10:00 PM EDT 400 Getty Images

IndyCars and stock cars may be drastically different racing machines, but Juan Pablo Montoya believes that his time in NASCAR has provided him with lessons that will be valuable to him as he prepares to return to the open-wheel landscape next season for Team Penske.

I think you learn so many things about the cars that you will never understand, or believe or see,” Montoya noted Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “There are a lot more basic things that you ignore in open wheel…There are a lot of things to learn.

“And as I said at the beginning of this week, it is going to be an uphill battle in a lot of ways, but I am looking forward to the challenge.”

The outspoken Colombian has only won twice in his seven years of Sprint Cup competition, and has only been able to make the Chase once. It has been a marked contrast from his past glory days in open-wheel, which were filled with accomplishments such as the 1999 CART championship, the 2000 Indianapolis 500 victory, and seven Grand Prix wins in Formula One from 2001-2006.

However, Montoya is not one to think that his stock car career hasn’t been fruitful.

“There is a lot of pluses of being here these years,” he said. “I don’t think that they are wasted years. I think that I learned a lot. I’m just looking forward to being in a winning car.”

Montoya will be part of a formidable three-car stable at Team Penske next year in IndyCar alongside Helio Castroneves (the current IZOD IndyCar Series championship leader) and Will Power. And you would assume that he’ll indeed have a car that’s capable of making him a winner again.

But even with all of his talent, he admits that it will take a bit to get used to things – especially the equipment, which has changed considerably since his first go-round in IndyCar.

“One of the good things about it is that when I drove [IndyCars], they were sequential – manually sequential gearbox. Now they are paddle shift like the F1 [car] was,” Montoya said.

“It is actually…I would say…easier than it used to be…I hadn’t even thought about the push-to-pass yet. There are a lot of things I am going to learn and a lot of mistakes I am going to do with the push-to-pass; not using it or over using it and stuff.

“We’ll learn, and I think the more I look at videos and prepare myself for the race, the better I am going to be.”

  1. Jeff - Sep 20, 2013 at 10:17 PM

    Well that’s good. Because his IndyCar and F1 experience only got him 2 wins and 58 top tens out of 244 NASCAR Spring Cup races.

  2. jimatmad - Sep 21, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    “Montoya feels his stock car experience will help in IndyCar return”

    Too bad his stock car experience didn’t help him with his stock car racing.

  3. abninf - Sep 21, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Good for him. NASCAR and the half empty stands are in decline, anyway. It’s only a shell of what it used to be. Anything that ends up going mainstream ends up sucking.

    • indycarseries500 - Sep 22, 2013 at 2:54 PM

      Pretty sure they’re still well over half full. Assuming NASCAR is in a downward spiral (I think their popularity is more leveling off than declining) wouldn’t going to IndyCar make him hit the bottom long before NASCAR does?

  4. midtec2005 - Sep 21, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    I think the criticism of his nascar record is unwarranted.

    How many Ganassi drivers have ever made the chase? One… Montoya. The fact is that the Ganassi nascar team stinks. Montoya showed better than everyone else that drove for him. If he was in a Hendrick car I’m sure this would be a very different story…

  5. Jeff - Sep 21, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    Oh wait, please don’t tell me it’s the team thing that determines wins, when we all know it’s driver skill.

  6. captaingroovy - Sep 21, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    The mystery question is can JPM hit a jet dryer in a Indycar also?

    • midtec2005 - Sep 26, 2013 at 6:36 PM

      Lets hope not, that would likely have a much uglier result.

  7. f1aroo - Sep 22, 2013 at 12:57 AM

    Weight Watchers or stomach bypass—-that is the question.

    Is he really hiring Richard Simmons as his physio?

    • indycarseries500 - Sep 22, 2013 at 4:10 PM

      He once dropped 30 lbs in less than a month to fit into a McLaren, he’ll be fine.

  8. worknman24hours - Sep 26, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    I think Juan will be happy to get back into cars that respond as fast as he does.

    The last few years Montoya’s been on a driving vacation of sorts not using every part of his driving skills set.

    Should be a fun year to watch Indycar in 2014.

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