Sunday, July 09, 2006

F1 Driver Juan Pablo Montoya Drifting to NASCAR

Juan Pablo Montoya, currently with the Mercedes-McLaren F1 team, will be driving NASCAR for Chip Ganassi's team in 2007. Montoya is a former CART racer, and Indy 500 winner, who did a day swap with Jeff Gordon in 2003 where he had his first exposure to stock car driving.

Montoya discusses in the Yahoo! article how he understands the differences between the two sports and that he doesn't expect immediate success.

One reason for the transition from F1 to NASCAR may be the more "pass oriented" style of the NASCAR races. According to another Yahoo! article, Montoya stated:

``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.''

Atheletes who have migrated from open wheel racing to NASCAR have had mixed results, with Tony Stewart being one of the most successful, so we'll see if Montoya's style leads to victories. Montoya will likely race a few Busch races this year and will run both Nextel and Busch races in '07.

With rumors of Kimi Raikkonen moving over to Renault next year growing strong, Montoya's move leaves speculation at McLaren's line up next year.

The news of Montoya's leaving F1 is less surprising given his involvement in the USGP major pile up where he tried to shift blame to teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

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