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: MAVTV 500 replay and INDYCAR championship celebration tonight, starting 8 p.m. ET

    Sep 2, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    MAVTV 500 Ð Day 1 Getty Images

    The Fontana race replay and championship celebration air tonight on NBCSN from 8 p.m. ET through 11:30 p.m. ET.

  2. NASCAR AMERICA: Who can challenge Hendrick, Penske drivers in Chase? (VIDEO)

    Sep 2, 2014, 7:03 PM EDT

    Irwin Tools Night Race - Qualifying Getty Images

    NASCAR AMERICA’s Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman have their ideas on who can beat out NASCAR’s two strongest teams for a championship.

  3. NASCAR AMERICA: Kahne looking ahead to the Chase (VIDEO)

    Sep 2, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT

    Oral-B USA 500 Getty Images

    The newest Chase-bound driver chats with NBCSN’s Marty Snider about his win on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

  4. Everything you need to know for Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond

    Sep 2, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    Jeff Gordon AP

    400 miles. 2 Chase Grid spots. It all comes down to Saturday night.

  5. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA talks with Atlanta winner Kahne at 5 p.m. ET

    Sep 2, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    (Photo: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Coming up today: Beating the Hendrick/Penske bloc; Atlanta edition of “Scan All 43″; Kyle Busch’s continued struggles; the career of crew chief Jimmy Fennig.

  6. American driver Conor Daly loses GP2 ride with Venezuela GP Lazarus

    Sep 2, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    © GP2 Media © GP2 Media

    Daly confirms the tough news on his Twitter page, citing a “lack of funding” as the cause for his dropping.

  7. NASCAR: Turner Scott shuts down No. 30 team in Truck Series

    Sep 2, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    Pocono Mountains 150 - Practice Getty Images

    Ron Hornaday Jr. is out of a ride and 18 employees are out of a job.

  8. Fernando Alonso denies rumors of leaving Ferrari

    Sep 2, 2014, 2:45 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Practice Getty Images

    Alonso to Britain’s Sky Sports: “I want to win here and finish the job that we started some years ago, and we will see what the future [holds]“

  9. MRTI: Hargrove (Porsche GT3 Canada) and Burkett (Atlantic) capture other titles

    Sep 2, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT

    Green, Hargrove, Pigot. Photo: IMSA Green, Hargrove, Pigot. Photo: IMSA

    Mazda Road to Indy regulars Scott Hargrove and Daniel Burkett secure titles in Porsche GT3 Canada and Atlantic, respectively.

  10. Caterham GP2 team brings in Red Bull Junior Pierre Gasly for rest of 2014

    Sep 2, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    Photo via @RedBullMotors Photo via @RedBullMotors

    Pierre Gasly, a Red Bull Junior, will join Caterham’s GP2 team for the rest of 2014.

  11. Your Chase clinch scenarios for Saturday’s regular season finale

    Sep 2, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    Irwin Tools Night Race - Practice Getty Images

    Ryan Newman is the only Chase hopeful that controls his destiny going into Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400.

  12. Mikhail Aleshin updates social media for first time since Fontana accident

    Sep 2, 2014, 1:03 PM EDT

    AleshinSunIMS Getty Images

    Mikhail Aleshin updates his social media pages for first time since scary Fontana accident on Friday night.

  13. Gene Haas’ F1 team changes team name, launches new pages

    Sep 2, 2014, 12:17 PM EDT

    Gene Haas Formula One Press Conference Getty Images

    What was Haas Formula is now Haas F1 Team as part of a new brand rollout.

  14. United Fiber & Data announces IndyCar return; capacity, driver TBD

    Sep 2, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    United Fiber & Data looks set to return to IndyCar for 2015 and the foreseeable future.

  15. Cindric proposes IndyCar champion Will Power will run No. 1 in 2015

    Sep 2, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    WillNumber AP

    Team Penske president Tim Cindric all but confirms Will Power will run the No. 1 in 2015.

  16. MAVTV announces two-year IndyCar extension at Fontana; date TBD

    Sep 2, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    MAVTV 500 Getty Images

    MAVTV announces IndyCar’s return to Fontana for two more years through 2016, although official confirmation from the sanctioning body and a date remains to be revealed.

  17. NASCAR AMERICA: Kahne’s in Chase, but knows he and No. 5 team must improve (VIDEO)

    Sep 1, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Oral-B USA 500 Getty Images

    Kahne to NBCSN contributor Nate Ryan: “We need to build off of this…As a team, we need to be stronger together.”

  18. NASCAR AMERICA: Assessing Tony Stewart’s return at Atlanta (VIDEO)

    Sep 1, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Oral-B USA 500 Getty Images

    NASCAR AMERICA’S Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman believe that the three-time Sprint Cup champion handled himself well throughout a difficult weekend.

  19. F1: Sochi grandstand to be named for Toro Rosso rookie Kvyat

    Sep 1, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Qualifying Getty Images

    Organizers of the Russian Grand Prix appear to be getting behind their countryman as F1’s first visit to Sochi draws closer.

  20. NHRA: Four first-time U.S. Nationals winners crowned in Indianapolis

    Sep 1, 2014, 6:35 PM EDT

    DeJoriaWin AP

    Richie Crampton, Alexis DeJoria, Shane Gray and Eddie Krawiec captured U.S. Nationals wins on Monday.

Video from NASCAR America

Tony Stewart does well in return
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. K. Harvick (2198)
  2. J. Gordon (1988)
  3. T. Stewart (1651)
  4. M. Kenseth (1277)
  5. J. Logano (1220)