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Juan Pablo Montoya To Join NASCAR


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F1 driver Montoya to drive in NASCAR

By CHRIS JENKINS, AP Sports Writer

July 9, 2006

AP - Jul 9, 2:01 pm EDT

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JOLIET, Ill. (AP) -- Why on Earth would Juan Pablo Montoya trade Monte Carlo and Melbourne for Darlington and Martinsville -- and likely take a pay cut in the process?

The Formula One star said he's looking for a more enjoyable atmosphere and a new racing challenge, and thinks he'll find it in NASCAR next year.

``It's not how many millions you're making or how much money you're making,'' Montoya said at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday. ``It's a matter of, three years down the line, are you going to be excited at what you're doing or not? And three years down the line, when I look at my career, I'll be a lot happier doing this.''

Montoya will leave the McLaren-Mercedes F1 team at the end of the season, re-uniting with team owner Chip Ganassi to drive the No. 42 car in NASCAR's Nextel Cup Series. Montoya and Ganassi had considerable success together in Indy-style racing before Montoya left for F1 in 2001.

``This guy and I have had a lot of fun together over the years,'' Ganassi said. ``I couldn't be more happy.''

Neither could NASCAR, which will benefit from the Colombian's star power and international appeal. Montoya will become the only foreign-born and nonwhite driver regularly competing in Nextel Cup.

The elite F1 community tends to look down its nose at NASCAR's relatively unsophisticated style of racing, so Montoya's migration will give the series an air of credibility.

``The Europeans have to sit up and say, 'What's that about?','' said former driver Benny Parsons, now a television analyst for NBC and TNT.

Montoya said he is under no illusions that the transition is going to be easy.

``Coming here is going to be probably one of my toughest challenges ever,'' Montoya said.

Montoya's only real experience driving a NASCAR car came in 2003, when he and Jeff Gordon swapped cars for exhibition laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

``It's a great thing for the sport to have such a world-class driver want to compete,'' Gordon said in a statement before the race. ``I welcome him and respect him for accepting the challenge.''

His real education might begin later this year, as Montoya may enter a few Busch Series races after the conclusion of the F1 season. He also will drive in the majority of Busch races next year to gain additional experience.

``It's not going to be a walk in the park,'' Ganassi said. ``It's going to be a lot of work.''

Montoya joined Ganassi at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday morning, meeting with his new crew members and attending a closed-door meeting with NASCAR president Mike Helton and other series officials.

Although the F1 season runs through October, Montoya sounds like he's ready to put the sport in his rear-view mirror and start rubbing fenders in NASCAR.

``Anyone that watches the race, they know it is not the most exciting thing you can watch,'' Montoya said of F1. ``No disrespect. How hard is it to pass in Formula One? And if you pass and then you touch wheels, you're an animal.''

Ganassi initially was skeptical that Montoya was serious about NASCAR, but quickly won his old boss over.

``He said, 'I want to get back to racing,''' Ganassi said. ``The guy loves racing. And what better place than here?''

Montoya, who won a CART series championship in 1999 and the Indianapolis 500 in 2000 with Ganassi, will replace Casey Mears, who will drive for Hendrick Motorsports next season.

``It's nice to have somebody in your car who wants to be there, wants to be with your team, wants to be a part of it,'' Ganassi said.

Several open-wheel drivers who have tried to move to NASCAR have struggled with the adjustment. Tony Stewart left the Indy Racing League to become a two-time NASCAR champion, and Robby Gordon has three career victories. But others haven't fared as well.

The list of open-wheel drivers who flirted with NASCAR in recent years but haven't established themselves as top-level Nextel Cup material includes established drivers such as John Andretti, Christian Fittipaldi, Scott Pruett, Paul Tracy, Max Papis and Jimmy Vasser.

Hendrick Motorsports vice president of competition Ken Howes, a former F1 crew member, called Montoya's decision ``brave.'' Howes figures he'll challenge for victories at NASCAR's two road-course races next year and, if given time, will be able to learn the other tracks.

Howes wishes Montoya good luck -- to a point.

``Hope he doesn't do too well,'' Howes said, smiling.

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I'm not surprised really, he hasn't done to well this season in F1.

I personally think he is doing it because no other teams wants him or can afford him.

I'm sure some of the smaller teams would of had him, but it would of done their image and team much better to have younger drivers.

Well just hope he doesn't get involved in any more accidents this season

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Is it possible that F1 just isn't a challenge with all the technology and travel schedule. Juan said in his press conference, that it took him 27 hrs to get to a race. And he said that he had a great time when he and Jeff Gordon switched cars at Indy a few years ago.

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Honestly F1 has become less and less about the skill of the driver and more and more about the technology and money of the manufacturers. I'm sure for the drivers it is frustrating to see a driver with less skill winning because they are driving a car from Ferrari or Mclaren rather than something else. Maybe he is wanting more of a personal challenge...

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I am dissapointed to see Juan Pablo leave Formula 1, he is one of my favourite drivers, mainly for his driving style and his unique personality. At the same time I think the move to NASCAR will be good for him, as the type of racing will match his aggressive driving style.

Good luck Juan Pablo (Y).

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Considering Juan is good at two things and not much else: Colliding his team mates out of the race and mouthing off, I'm sure he'll fit into merry-go-round quite well.

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"a new challenge", yeah right, his carreer in f1 is over, he's just not good enough, and mclaren don't want him anymore, that's the reason ;)

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bah, why nascar? those guys have no skill. i saw parts of their race at the infineon road coarse a few weeks back, and it was like watching 8 year olds drive bumper cars. you put those nascar guys in a situation where they aren't turning gradually left, and they look like 16 year olds who just got their drivers license. and then you have jeff gordon this week, blatantly spinning the first place guy out so he could get the win. classless, IMO.

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bah, why nascar? those guys have no skill. i saw parts of their race at the infineon road coarse a few weeks back, and it was like watching 8 year olds drive bumper cars. you put those nascar guys in a situation where they aren't turning gradually left, and they look like 16 year olds who just got their drivers license. and then you have jeff gordon this week, blatantly spinning the first place guy out so he could get the win. classless, IMO.

Please tell me your joking? Some of the best drivers in the world are NASCAR drivers. Alot of NASCAR drivers come from road courses and dirt tracks (where the real skill is...try driving 160 on loose dirt and sliding through turns).

If you think they looked bad at Infineon its because your used to seeing motorcycles and 1600lb cars with huge spoilers and huge tire driving on them. Not 3500lb cars with half the tires and a fraction of the spoiler. Slinging a car build like an airplane around a road course is easy...doing the same with one the size of your moms car is a little different. ;)

By the way...did you see how well Jeff Gordan did when they put him in Montoyas F1 car? His lap time was one tenth of a second Montoyas time and it was his first time in a Formula car.

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It was evident that JPM was gonna leave McLaren, but this wasn't what was expected. Though there were rumours that he will move back to Indy, but NASCAR!!! Anyways, I still don't think Kimi will stay at McLaren, even if now that JPM is leaving. He has had way too many heartbreaks.

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bah, why nascar? those guys have no skill. i saw parts of their race at the infineon road coarse a few weeks back, and it was like watching 8 year olds drive bumper cars. you put those nascar guys in a situation where they aren't turning gradually left, and they look like 16 year olds who just got their drivers license. and then you have jeff gordon this week, blatantly spinning the first place guy out so he could get the win. classless, IMO.

I agree. There is no skill in driving a car round and round in a circle.

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.try driving 160 on loose dirt and sliding through turns).

Its called rally car, and its a hell of a lot more exciting than anything on an oval track. Now those guys have REAL driving skill.

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It was evident that JPM was gonna leave McLaren, but this wasn't what was expected. Though there were rumours that he will move back to Indy, but NASCAR!!! Anyways, I still don't think Kimi will stay at McLaren, even if now that JPM is leaving. He has had way too many heartbreaks.

Well I cant see it being Alonso and Kimi at McLaren next year, it is more likely to be Alonso and Louis Hamilton.

I hope Louis Hamilton get's a drive, he has a lot of tallent for his age.

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McLaren drop Montoya at French GP

Juan Pablo Montoya has been dropped by McLaren for this weekend's French Grand Prix following his decision to quit for Nascar at the end of the season.

The Colombian will be replaced by test driver Pedro de la Rosa at Magny-Cours.

"I'm of course extremely thrilled to have this opportunity to race a car in which I'm really comfortable," said De la Rosa.

"I know the car better than anyone and I'm confident I can achieve important championship points for the team."

Story from BBC SPORT:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/sport2/hi...one/5168206.stm

Published: 2006/07/11 09:46:53 GMT

? BBC MMVI

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I will not miss him that much. The last crash at Indianapolis was really Sato-styled.

Good thing that there are plenty of young, talented and much less dangerous drivers for F1: Montagny, Hamilton, Bourdais ...

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Its called rally car, and its a hell of a lot more exciting than anything on an oval track. Now those guys have REAL driving skill.

Rally car is great too...driving on dirt is driving on dirt. No matter which way you turn the car. It doesn't slide any worse to the right than it does to the left. Also in Rally racing you don't have 37 other cars jammed onto the course with you that you have to avoid while sliding. If you lucky you'll pass 6 or 7 cars not 40 or 50 in the course of a race. ;)

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Please tell me your joking? Some of the best drivers in the world are NASCAR drivers. Alot of NASCAR drivers come from road courses and dirt tracks (where the real skill is...try driving 160 on loose dirt and sliding through turns).

If you think they looked bad at Infineon its because your used to seeing motorcycles and 1600lb cars with huge spoilers and huge tire driving on them. Not 3500lb cars with half the tires and a fraction of the spoiler. Slinging a car build like an airplane around a road course is easy...doing the same with one the size of your moms car is a little different. ;)

By the way...did you see how well Jeff Gordan did when they put him in Montoyas F1 car? His lap time was one tenth of a second Montoyas time and it was his first time in a Formula car.

i'm sorry man, but anyone who only drives slight lefts, and rarely has to brake, can't seriously be compared to guys who drive f1/GT/rally. i know i came off a little bit harsh, but all drivers are not created equally. nascar just happens to be the "minor leagues" when it comes to pure car driving skill.

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About time he left, it's been pretty obvious that no one was going to sign him, too expensive for the smaller teams and not good enough for the top teams. His last two seasons have been very poor, wonder how well de la Rosa will do.

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i'm sorry man, but anyone who only drives slight lefts, and rarely has to brake, can't seriously be compared to guys who drive f1/GT/rally. i know i came off a little bit harsh, but all drivers are not created equally. nascar just happens to be the "minor leagues" when it comes to pure car driving skill.

I guess we'll see how Montoya does then...He should obviously dominate in NASCAR since he is competing against minor leaguers. I've actually driven both types of race cars on both their respective tracks (Petty Interprises and Team Green Racing Schools). And NASCAR race cars are much much harder to control and much hotter inside. Its heavy and has no grip compared to an Indy or F1 car.

People make NASCAR sound like its easy since they don't race road courses (except for twice a year). But its a totally different type of racing. F1 guys have far less competition on the track, far less contact, and far less stamina. Their races average about an hour in length wheras a NASCAR race goes on for about 3. None of the F1 or Indy guys who move to NACAR have success. They are used to the cars doing all of the work for them. Once your in a stock car there is no changing the setup while your driving. If it isn't handling well then you better grow a pair and get used to it.

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