Skip to content

He’s baaaack: Juan Pablo Montoya has high hopes for NASCAR race at Michigan

Jun 13, 2014, 4:24 PM EDT

montoya3 Getty Images

Juan Pablo Montoya racing in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan likely boils down to one of two things:

1) He has some unfinished business from his previous seven-year stint in NASCAR, or,

2) Old habits are hard to break.

Whatever the case, while Montoya has returned to a full-time open-wheel ride in IndyCar this season, he just can’t fully quit stock-car racing.

Especially when he thinks he has a chance to win in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

“Absolutely, our goal is to win the race,” Montoya said. “Michigan is a huge race for Roger (Penske) and for the manufacturers. It would be an honor for me to be able to do that for them.

“We tested the No.12 Ford several weeks ago at Nashville and it was really quick. I felt like I got up to speed in no time. That said, we realize that it’s going to be difficult. The Cup Series is always evolving so when you aren’t in the car every week you can get behind easily. But I have two teammates that are among the fastest drivers every race (Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano), so I know the speed will be there to contend.”

Sunday will be the first of two Sprint Cup races Montoya will compete in this season, the other being the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis next month.

Montoya is enjoying the challenge of returning to IndyCar, currently seventh in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings, with three top-five finishes, including a season-best third-place showing last Saturday at Texas.

But don’t expect Montoya to make a full-time return to NASCAR anytime soon.

“For me it’s more of an opportunity to maybe win a race or two here,” Montoya said in a media session Friday at MIS. “This year we’ve got two really good shots. This is probably one of the best tracks for the Fords.

“They always excel here and have a car that can win, and the way Team Penske is running right now, if it clicks from the beginning, and we hope it does, we might have a shot at winning this.”

Montoya was twice in contention to win the Brickyard but ultimately came up short each time. In the past, he’s called failing to win there as one of the most frustrating defeats that continues to gnaw at him to this day.

“Going to the Brickyard is a place that I run really well,” Montoya said. “When we ran bad we were always in the top 10, so going there in a car like this you’re definitely looking at a shot at a win as well.”

Montoya hasn’t exactly had the greatest history at Michigan – with just three top-10 finishes in 14 starts – but he feels confident that Team Penske equipment will make up for his past shortcomings there, as well as serve as a tune-up for Indy.

“To be honest with you, with the way Team Penske is running here it’s a hell of a chance,” said Montoya, who will start 28th in Sunday’s race. “You see Joey’s (Logano) comments sometimes and he says it was a terrible day and he finished fifth or sixth, so from my history here I would have killed to have a car that would do that.

“Our goal here, I think, is we’ll take it as it comes this weekend, but the way really look at it is it’s really good preparation for the Brickyard.

“The way Team Penske is running right now, they look like every week they have a shot at winning, so if we do a good job here and we have a decent race we’ll easily get a top 10 and if I’m really comfortable in the car we could even look at a win.

“I think this track, with my background in open wheel, coming here is gonna play into my hands a little bit because it’s a really fast track. It’s a track you don’t brake, it’s a track where you’re really controlling the throttle and you do that a lot in Indy Car.

“Roger gave me the opportunity to come here and we want to make SKF (race sponsor) and the Ford group proud of what we can do.”

Added crew chief Greg Erwin, “Juan Montoya is a world-class driver. Any crew chief would want to work with a driver with that kind of experience. … It’s going to be a fun weekend. Obviously we aren’t worrying about points, so we are able to lay it on the line.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 5 p.m. ET

    Jul 31, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT

    140731-NASCAR-AMERICA

    Thursday’s NASCAR AMERICA lineup…

  2. Formula E: Malaysia date moves from October to November

    Jul 31, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia - Previews Getty Images

    Malaysian FIA Formula E round moves from October to November to accommodate prime minister’s wishes.

  3. IndyCar: A crucial weekend to commence at Mid-Ohio

    Jul 31, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT

    Honda Indy 200 At Mid-Ohio - Day 3 Getty Images

    Ryan Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud look to make headway on Team Penske teammates, while Chip Ganassi Racing seeks a six-pack of Mid-Ohio wins this weekend.

  4. Hysterical video: How the British envision NASCAR

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    nascar brits

    Anthony Richardson bills himself as the Bad British Commentator, and it definitely shows through here with his malapropisms and complete lack of understanding of the sport and world of NASCAR.

  5. What might the 2015 Sprint Cup schedule look like?

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images Getty Images

    There may not be wholesale changes, based upon what NASCAR chairman Brian France said recently, but next year’s Sprint Cup schedule will look different. Based upon various sources and things we’ve heard and/or read, we’re going to chime in with our ideas and why we think that way.

  6. As many as 4 more drivers can clinch Chase spot at Pocono

    Jul 31, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Chase for the sprint cup logo

    With six qualifying races left, a total of 10 more spots remain to be clinched to fill out the expanded 16-driver playoff field for this year’s 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup.

  7. Mark Martin returning to Roush Fenway Racing in unique role

    Jul 31, 2014, 11:54 AM EDT

    (Photo: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Legendary NASCAR driver Mark Martin is returning to Roush Fenway Racing. But don’t expect Martin, 55, to get back behind the wheel any time soon.

  8. Police seek large stolen Earnhardt memorabilia collection

    Jul 31, 2014, 11:01 AM EDT

    (Illustration: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images) Getty Images

    If you collect NASCAR memorabilia and someone approaches you in the coming days with a deal that seems too good to be true – especially if it involves merchandise related to either Dale Earnhardt Sr. or Dale Earnhardt Jr. – it probably is.

  9. Report: Ferrari’s Engine and Electrics boss Luca Marmorini leaves team

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:50 AM EDT

    Hungary F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Ferrari’s head of Engine and Electrics, Luca Marmorini, has left the team ahead of the second half of the season.

  10. Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio highlights extensive motorsports coverage this weekend on NBCSN, NBC

    Jul 31, 2014, 9:59 AM EDT

    NBCSN

    NBCSN will present live coverage of the IndyCar Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio this Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, highlighting more than 30 hours of motorsports coverage across NBC and NBCSN this weekend.

  11. Report: Toyota closing in on new 2015 Camry for Sprint Cup

    Jul 31, 2014, 9:52 AM EDT

    (AP Photo/Tom Strattman) AP

    If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That’s the case for the new design of the Toyota Camry for the 2015 Sprint Cup season.

  12. IndyCar: Carpenter hopeful for second car in 2015

    Jul 31, 2014, 8:57 AM EDT

    Ed Carpenter AP

    Ed Carpenter says he’d like to expand to two cars, but it remains to be seen if this can actually come to fruition.

  13. Roush Fenway shores up sponsorship for Stenhouse as Zest returns to No. 17

    Jul 30, 2014, 7:12 PM EDT

    Pocono 400 - Practice Getty Images

    Personal care brand will serve as primary backer for Stenhouse in multiple 2015 races plus work in a season-long associate role.

  14. NASCAR AMERICA: Wednesday Round-Up Includes Denny Hamlin Interview (VIDEO)

    Jul 30, 2014, 5:38 PM EDT

    DHIMSPenalty AP

    NASCAR AMERICA on Wednesday includes a Denny Hamlin interview, a recap of the Hamlin penalties and Dale Earnhardt Jr. new crew chief news.

  15. Red Bull GRC: Nelson Piquet Jr. goes wakeboarding (VIDEO)

    Jul 30, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    PiquetWakeboard

    Nelson Piquet Jr. shows Kristen Kenney how to wakeboard, on the day after Piquet bagged a podium finish in Red Bull Global Rallycross at Charlotte.

  16. WATCH LIVE: Denny Hamlin reacts to Indy penalties on NASCAR AMERICA

    Jul 30, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    NASCAR America

    Coming up today: Full coverage of Brickyard penalties against Joe Gibbs Racing, including reaction from driver Denny Hamlin; interview with Eldora Truck Series winner Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.

  17. How will Greg Ives handle the spotlight as Dale Jr.’s crew chief?

    Jul 30, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    History 300 - Practice Getty Images

    Next year, Ives will have deal with an amount of fan and media attention that dwarfs anything he’s ever encountered in the sport.

  18. IndyCar: Mid-Ohio Livery Notes

    Jul 30, 2014, 4:06 PM EDT

    JPMHawk Getty Images

    The livery notes going into this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 at Toronto.

  19. Greg Ives to become crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. next season

    Jul 30, 2014, 2:39 PM EDT

    GregIvesCrop Getty Images

    Ives currently serves as crew chief for Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott and also worked as a race engineer for Jimmie Johnson during his run of five Sprint Cup titles from 2006-2010.

  20. Gordon’s crew chief: 24 team more confident after Brickyard win

    Jul 30, 2014, 1:14 PM EDT

    Sprint All-Star Race - Practice Getty Images

    In addition to talking about the meaning of Sunday’s win at Indy, Alan Gustafson touches on the penalties against fellow crew chief Darian Grubb and Joe Gibbs Racing.

Today on NASCAR AMERICA

More from NASCAR America

Ives, Earnhardt Jr. a good combo?

Featured video

Inside the Hungarian GP
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. D. Hamlin (1124)
  2. J. McMurray (1044)
  3. A. Almirola (949)
  4. K. Busch (934)
  5. T. Bodine (838)