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Author Topic: Montoya will not find life easy in the Fast Lane NASCAR  (Read 1288 times)


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Montoya will not find life easy in the Fast Lane NASCAR
« on: July 10, 2006, 10:41:17 PM »
The European auto racing establishment will expect Juan Pablo Montoya to dominate NASCAR, quickly putting less sophisticated drivers in their proper place: second.

While Montoya himself seems prepared for a tough transition from Formula One to NASCAR, the racing elitists he'll leave behind might be in for a surprise.

NASCAR folks have seen too many flashy open-wheel drivers enter stock car racing expecting to extend their careers and make some easy money, only to walk away humbled.

They understand that Montoya - who announced on Sunday that he will leave F1 at the end of the season to drive for old pal Chip Ganassi in NASCAR - is a different driver in a different situation than, say, Christian Fittipaldi or Paul Tracy.

But they also know this NASCAR stuff isn't as simple as it looks.

Jeff Gordon, who swapped race cars with Montoya for a 2003 exhibition event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said the Colombian star is in for a short-term rough ride.

"But I respect the fact that he knows that," Gordon said. "That he knows he's talented and he's got a team that's committed to him. And I think over time, it's going to be a long road, but I think he's going to do a fantastic job and I think it's great for the sport."

Montoya seemed sincere Sunday when he said he doesn't expect immediate success.

"I think a lot of people are going to build this up to be, 'He's going to come in and he's going to win and he's going to do great things,"' Montoya said. "And of course I want to do that, that's what I think Chip hired me for. But I think it's going to be a lot tougher than people think."

The early NASCAR scouting report says Montoya will contend for victories at the two road-course races next year. But to become a well-rounded NASCAR driver, he will have to work hard to adjust to a new sport - and a new culture.

The list of open-wheel drivers who tried NASCAR but didn't stick includes Fittipaldi, Tracy, Scott Pruett, Max Papis and Jimmy Vasser.

"I don't think many of them have come in with the right mind-set of just how tough it's going to be," said Petty Enterprises executive vice president Robbie Loomis. "I think that'll be Juan's greatest asset: I think he understands how difficult a task he'll be up against."

But that's not the only reason Montoya could succeed where others failed.
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