Skip to content

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

Jun 13, 2014, 4:24 PM EST

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. Long: Journey for Wendell Scott’s family ends with a kiss (VIDEO)

    Jan 31, 2015, 12:23 AM EST

    Credit: ISC Archives Credit: ISC Archives

    Wendell Scott’s induction to the NASCAR Hall of Fame completed a long journey for his family.

  2. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR Gridiron Challenge pres. by Toyota at 10 p.m. ET

    Jan 30, 2015, 9:30 PM EST

    NASCARGridiron

    CLICK HERE for stream links to the special event involving former NFL greats and NASCAR drivers.

  3. NASCAR AMERICA: Wendell Scott Jr. – My father knew he would be recognized one day (VIDEO)

    Jan 30, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

    Credit: ISC Archives Credit: ISC Archives

    The son of NASCAR’s first African-American winner of a premier series race talks with NASCAR AMERICA’s Marty Snider about his father’s accomplishments.

  4. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR Hall of Fame special and induction ceremony at 7 p.m. ET

    Jan 30, 2015, 6:30 PM EST

    NASCAR Hall of Fame Grand Opening Getty Images

    CLICK HERE for stream links to tonight’s NBCSN coverage of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015 Induction Ceremony in Charlotte, N.C.

  5. NASCAR AMERICA: 1-on-1 with the King – and Hall of Famer – Richard Petty (VIDEO)

    Jan 30, 2015, 6:15 PM EST

    (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Petty, a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s inaugural class of inductees, speaks with NASCAR AMERICA’s Kelli Stavast before tonight’s Class of 2015 ceremonies.

  6. A day later, Brazil Indy cancellation leaves more questions than answers

    Jan 30, 2015, 6:00 PM EST

    Honda Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg - Day 3 Getty Images

    Brasilia cancellation provides the latest chapter in the roller coaster ride that has been IndyCar’s international dalliance.

  7. Bowman to drive No. 7 car for Tommy Baldwin Racing

    Jan 30, 2015, 4:05 PM EST

    Bank of America 500 - Qualifying Bank of America 500 - Qualifying

    Alex Bowman joins Tommy Baldwin Racing for the 2015 season, replacing Michael Annett, who left for a ride at Scott Motorsports.

  8. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA from the Hall of Fame red carpet at 4:30 p.m. ET

    Jan 30, 2015, 4:00 PM EST

    nascar hall logo

    Coming up today: Live interviews and red carpet arrivals for tonight’s NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony; a closer look at the careers of all five inductees; Gridiron Challenge preview.

  9. Hulkenberg heading into 2015 under less pressure

    Jan 30, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

    Canadian F1 Grand Prix - Previews Getty Images

    2015 will be the first year that Hulkenberg has raced in F1 for two straight years with the same team.

  10. Filippi gets his chance; JR awaits his next opportunity

    Jan 30, 2015, 3:18 PM EST

    Mike Conway AP

    Luca Filippi gets the opportunity several coveted, and will now have the chance to seize.

  11. Ferrari junior Marciello set for busy 2015, balancing Sauber and GP2 commitments

    Jan 30, 2015, 2:30 PM EST

    MarcielloAD1 Getty Images

    He is widely touted as being one of the brightest talents on the cusp of F1, but 2015 will be a big year for Raffaele Marciello.

  12. Marcus Ericsson hoping for points in sophomore F1 season

    Jan 30, 2015, 1:45 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Brazil - Previews Getty Images

    With Sauber, the Swede hopes he can continue to develop and make up for a difficult rookie year with Caterham.

  13. IndyCar: Marco Andretti is both paying it forward, and set for another number change

    Jan 30, 2015, 1:15 PM EST

    MarioMarco Getty Images

    Marco Andretti set for a new number while Andretti Autosport continues to sort out the rest of its IndyCar lineup.

  14. Toyota to return to the World Rally Championship in 2017

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:30 PM EST

    © Toyota © Toyota

    After boldly stating in 1999 that “all that can be achieved has been achieved”, Toyota will return to the WRC upon the next regulation change.

  15. NASCAR Media Tour Content Recap: All posts, one place

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    NMTrecap Getty Images

    A full download of all posts from NASCAR Media Tour on NBCSports.com.

  16. Ricciardo ready for new chapter at Red Bull post-Vettel (VIDEO)

    Jan 30, 2015, 11:30 AM EST

    Ricciardo Kvyat 30-1 Getty Images

    Australian driver does not feel under any added pressure in 2015 despite appearing to be the new team leader.

  17. Gridiron Challenge: NASCAR drivers take football stars for a spin (VIDEO)

    Jan 30, 2015, 11:15 AM EST

    HinesWard AP

    First video from Gridiron Challenge now up, in advance of the full event set to air tonight at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

  18. IMSA: Wayne Taylor Racing moved to rear of P class for drive-time violation

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:51 AM EST

    Roar Before the Rolex 24 Getty Images

    The No. 10 WTR Corvette DP reclassified to last in P after drive-time violation at Rolex 24 at Daytona.

  19. Raikkonen confident Ferrari is heading in the right direction

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:45 AM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of USA - Previews Getty Images

    After a miserable 2014, Raikkonen hopes that the new season and a new car will bring better fortunes for Ferrari.

More from NASCAR America

Elliott: 'Common bond' unites inductees
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (1396)
  2. C. Elliott (1341)
  3. K. Larson (1191)
  4. J. McMurray (1055)
  5. J. Clements (895)