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Report: Montoya to drive for Penske at Brickyard 400?

Apr 29, 2014, 4:34 PM EDT

IndyCar Testing Getty Images

Former Indianapolis 500 and CART champion Juan Pablo Montoya has switched back to open-wheel racing, but before the Verizon IndyCar Series season started, it was indicated repeatedly that his NASCAR career may not be over.

During Montoya’s IndyCar test at Sebring last November, Penske Racing president Tim Cindric said that the Colombian had “unfinished business” in a stock car and that Penske might put him in a stock car “at the right time.”

Then, during this February’s Daytona Speedweeks, Montoya himself said that he thought running in the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway “would be a good thing.”

Now it appears that we may be close to knowing what stock car plans, if any, Montoya has in the near-future.

Earlier this morning, Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press tweeted the following:

Later on this afternoon, Lee Spencer of Motorsport.com reported that, in addition to an expected Brickyard announcement for Montoya, he could also drive a third car for Team Penske when the Sprint Cup Series makes their road course stops at Sonoma in June and Watkins Glen in August.

Sonoma is where Montoya earned his first Cup win in 2007, and three years later, he got his second Cup win at the Glen.

But as he talked about in February, Montoya especially wants to win the Brickyard after coming close twice in his seven-year Cup run with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Montoya finished second in the ’07 Brickyard to Tony Stewart, but led 116 laps in the ’09 edition only to have his bid for victory foiled by a late pit road speeding penalty; he finished 11th that day.

Last year, he almost got his first Cup win on an oval in the Richmond spring race until a caution came out with five laps to go. Subsequent pit stops left him sixth for the Green-White-Checkered restart, and he could only rise up to fourth by the end.

  1. techmeister1 - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:11 PM

    Montoya can’t be a “real racer” if you use Petty’s definition.

  2. dameslc - Apr 30, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    For me, Juan Montoya’s whole Nascar career seemed like one bad dream. He was always such a total badass in both CART and F1 that I would have never foreseen him racing in nascar as that move was just so completely off the wall and unprecedented for an F1 star of the modern era to make suddenly decide to race full time in nascar. I really never could have foreseen Montoya spending seven seasons running around at mid pack most of the time. I knew that he wouldn’t have over night results and that it was a real challenge for him, but I honestly thought that by his second season he would be racing at the front and competing for wins on a regular basis just based on his immense talent and the fact that he is such a quick study; this is the guy who came into the fiercely competitive champ car series as a twenty three year old rookie former F3000 driver and F1 test driver where they do not race on ovals and was challenging for the lead in just his second start on the high speed oval at Motegi Japan and then winning in his third, fourth and fifth starts and really should have won in his sixth start at Gateway if not for the problem with the pit stops and the pop off valve. Going from the smaller, lighter and far less powerful F3000 cars to getting behind 900 horsepower and flying around high speed ovals with power and authority as if he was a very experienced veteran driver is something that I’ll always remember about him.

    So watching him struggle to race at the front and appear to be one of the also ran drivers in nascar became painful to watch. I could never figure out why Montoya’s nascar career never evolved to the point of at least being a regular top ten finisher, chase contender and occasional winner. I do know that it haves to be extremely difficult to go from one completely different category of racing to another and he did go through five crew chiefs in seven years plus three different generations of sprint cup car and the EGR team was never considered one of the top teams in nascar, but still even with all that, I was truly surprised that he never reached the level of being considered one of the star drivers there with at least a couple of wins a year.

    I was watching a video a few weeks ago where Dario Franchitti in an interview was discussing his brief nascar endeavor and what he thought the reason for him struggling so much in nascar; Dario Franchitti – “When I first got the offer from Chip Ganassi to race for him in the sprint cup series, I just agreed without knowing what I was getting myself into and it was a truly humbling experience. the open wheeled cars that I was used to driving are completely different from the stock cars I was suddenly driving and there are virtually no similarities between them at all. they both require unique skill sets and when I started in nascar, I had to leave every single thing that I had ever learned in racing at the front door and learn everything all over again. I think the biggest mistake is that I went straight into the sprintcup series without the necessary years in a ladder series. I did it that way because Chip told me, that’s how we’re going to do it and I was learning as I was running. Everything else in my racing career was going from a smaller less powerful car to something a little bit bigger and a little bit more powerful and you go up and up a ladder and that’s how you learn.” Also when David Letterman asked Jimmie Johnson specifically why he thought Montoya never reached a high level of success in nascar, Johnson responded ” It’s what you grow up doing! you can get pretty close but to find that last little bit that makes the difference, it takes years and years and years to find it” When Letterman asked Johnson whether he thought he could be successful in another category of racing like F1 or IndyCar, Johnson said “It would be the same thing for any of us! we would encounter all of the same struggles and challenges that those guys have gone through.”

    So I think that Montoya’s time in Nascar was a mistake and a tragic waste of time but I wouldn’t mind seeing him race a few races like the Brickyard, Sonoma and Watkins Glen with another team but I don’t want to see him as a full time sprintcup driver as I think that he is where he belongs in a top open wheel racing series.

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