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DATE News (chronologically)
09/14/13
IRL
nassprint
Montoya to IndyCar with Andretti (10th Update)  UPDATE #10
Montoya at Chicagoland Friday.  Happy to know he has landed a new ride?
Photo by Chevy
This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today as Montoya has told Andretti Autosport his is not going to IndyCar.  Once again IndyCar gets egg on its face by pandering to NASCAR and its drivers.  Notice how well Montoya has been qualifying in NASCAR lately so he lands with a new sponsor and team in NASCAR. See related article "Pandering to IndyCar's mortal enemy."

09/09/13 Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti has made it clear that he wants to add 1999 CART champion Juan Montoya to his ranks next season, and as RACER has learned, significant progress has been made in finding the budget to bring the 37-year-old into their fold.

“We're at about 50 percent of what's needed to run Juan,” said John Lopes, the team's senior VP and chief marketing officer. “There's been a lot of interest in him, and with his success in Indy car racing – winning the 2000 Indy 500, his wins in F1, and everything he's done in NASCAR, companies sit up and take notice if you have a chance to work with him.”

Annual budgets for a championship-winning team like Andretti Autosport can run in the $7 million range, making the prospect of securing all of the funding to run Montoya a formidable challenge in an era where open-wheel sponsorship is in limited supply. Despite having a large budget number to hit, it's believed the acquisition of one final sponsor the team has been negotiating with would allow the Colombian's deal to be finalized.

“There are two particular sponsors that are definitely interested because of Juan, and if either were to happen, it would only be because of Juan,” Michael Andretti told RACER. “I would say there's a couple of scenarios that if a deal happens, it would be because of him. I wouldn't see them doing anything with anyone else but Juan.  More at Racer.com

08/31/13 A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, Did you notice that all of a sudden Montoya's been qualifying near the front of the field in NASCAR Sprint Cup every race whereas before he was midfield at best? Is that an adjustment to the timing and scoring computer software to help Juan catch the attention of a sponsor or team to ensure he stays in NASCAR rather than go do IndyCar?  If IndyCar was like NASCAR, Stefan Wilson would be on pole for this weekend's Baltimore GP because he has a new sponsor on his car - Nirvana Tea.  Instead he is dead last. I see Ricky Stenhouse won the pole in Atlanta yesterday.  Is that because his sponsor, Best Buy, who hasn't won anything, is getting a bit restless?  Curious minds want to know.  Mordichai Rosen, Los Angeles

08/21/13 The latest sign that Juan Pablo Montoya could return to IndyCar racing in 2014 is that the NASCAR driver didn’t ask Andretti Autosport for a large contract. Quite the contrary, Michael Andretti said.

“He’s not doing it for the money, that’s for sure,” Andretti said today. “He wants to win races, and he’s got great motivation, which is a great thing to see.”

Montoya, who turns 38 in September, apparently wants to show that he’s still as good as anyone in racing despite winning only two Sprint Cup races and one in Nationwide since making his stock car debut in October 2006.

Montoya hasn’t raced an Indy-style car since 2000, a season in which he won the Indianapolis 500. He drove for the Williams and McLaren teams in Formula One from 2001-06, winning seven races.

Including the 500, Montoya has won 11 races in IndyCar, plus the 1999 CART title, all in a Ganassi Racing car.

Andretti said he should know within the month if he has the sponsorship to field a car for Montoya. Part of that hinges on what happens with the GoDaddy sponsorship that is on James Hinchcliffe’s car. Hinchcliffe, who has won three races this season, will be a free agent at year’s end. Indy Star

08/19/13 Montoya has been added to our 2014 IndyCar Silly Season page.

Juan Montoya, a great talent wasted in NASCAR, may be headed back to IndyCar.  Above winning at Michigan in 2000 over Michael Andretti and Dario Franchitti
Mark Cipolloni/AR1.com
08/19/13 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today.  Michael Andretti is trying to find a sponsor to bring Juan Pablo Montoya back to IndyCar with Andretti Autosport.

"I have talked to Juan about IndyCar and told him 'Hell yeah, let's find a way to put something together,' " Andretti told The Associated Press on Monday. "I've driven against him and I think he's one of the best drivers I've ever driven against. It just comes down to sponsorship. So we're looking, and if it's a possibility, we want to do something with him."

Andretti only had conversations with Montoya last week after the Colombian learned from Chip Ganassi that he wouldn't be re-signed to Ganassi's NASCAR team for an eighth season. Montoya has been out of open wheel racing since he left Formula One in 2006 to rejoin Ganassi in NASCAR, and he's not ruling out any series now that he's looking for work.

He told AP on Monday a return to IndyCar isn't out of the question, but wouldn't reveal what teams he's spoken to so far.

Montoya won 11 races in 1999 and 2000 in CART driving for Ganassi, including the 1999 CART championship and the 2000 Indianapolis 500. Montoya and Andretti raced against each other those two seasons, with Andretti winning three races in that span. The two waged one of the most memorable battles in series history, with Montoya coming out on top as the two nearly banged wheels racing side-by-side at 230 mph to the finish line at Michigan International Speedway in 2000.

Andretti believes that Montoya's return to IndyCar would be a huge lift for the series.

"I think he could bring what he brought the last time — it seemed like when he raced, half the stands were full of flags supporting him," Andretti said. "When he first got to NASCAR, he had a huge effect there. He brings a huge crowd, a huge support. He's a big personality, and he could be a good personality for IndyCar because he definitely has that 'don't give a (crap) attitude.' "

Where Montoya fits into the Andretti lineup remains to be seen because the marketing arm is still working behind the scenes to finalize the 2014 lineup.

The biggest piece of the puzzle is James Hinchcliffe, a three-time IndyCar winner this season and breakthrough star in the final year of his two-year deal. Andretti Autosport much wants Hinchcliffe back, but an offer is contingent on a commitment from sponsor GoDaddy.

While Andretti waits, Hinchcliffe is currently free to negotiate with other teams in the paddock.

"It's all going to come down to GoDaddy and if they are going to play or not. They love Hinch, we love Hinch, but GoDaddy needs to decide if the return on their investment is there or not," Andretti said. "So we're just waiting and Hinch is allowed to be talking to other teams. He's not said that he wants to leave, but it's only fair for him to be allowed to see what's out there because we don't want him to be left with nothing. That's not fair to him, that's not fair to the series."

Hinchcliffe's deal is not tied to Andretti working out a deal with Montoya, he said.

"There's still a possibility of running five cars," Andretti said. "I think we can do it no problem, so long as we have a properly funded deal."  ABC News

08/19/13 "Well I was committed to NASCAR you know what I mean and when you are committed to NASCAR you want to make sure your head is in NASCAR. My heart always has been in open wheel. I had a lot of fun in NASCAR and you know we will see," he said Friday.

Sounds like NASCAR we'll be saying "Adios, Juan" come Homestead. I think he's been good for the sport, but to achieve what he wants there really isn't a place for him in NASCAR. I think it would a lot of fun to see how he would do in open-wheel if he transitions back.  Yahoo Sports

08/16/13 “I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I want to be in a winning car,” Montoya said Friday at Michigan International Speedway. “It was a fun seven years in the Target car with Chip (Ganassi) and everything. We worked really hard and had our ups and our downs.

“But at the end of the day, I want to win races. He wants to win races. And we want to try something different.”

“They had an option earlier in the year and didn’t take it, so I kind of knew it was going to be something different next year,” Montoya said. “They confirmed it this week and that was it.” 

Montoya would not be specific about which teams he has talked to about 2014 rides, which could include a return to IndyCar or a venture into sports cars or European touring cars or even the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

“It could be with Chip, it could be with somebody else,” he said. “With Chip, something we said is No. 1 is to make sure we keep our friendship. … I’ve been looking at my options for a while.

“I wanted to make sure we had the door open to stay at Ganassi if the opportunity was here.”

Ganassi still owns two IndyCar teams.

Montoya said that in his seven years with Ganassi’s NASCAR program things have clicked at times but not enough for them to have consistent success. He has undergone crew chief changes and competition director changes throughout the seven years.

“There was never any consistency,” Montoya said. “That was one of the harder things. It wasn’t because they were doing it on purpose; they were trying new things and trying to make things better.

“The problem is every time you make changes it makes it harder.”

If he doesn’t return to NASCAR, Montoya said he wouldn’t look back on his NASCAR career with disappointment.

“I had a great seven years,” Montoya said. “I learned a lot. Whether you believe it or not, I became a better racecar driver. … My speed, I believe, is the same or better and I’m just a lot wiser making decisions.

“I think it has been a good experience.” Sporting News

08/15/13 Should Montoya seek racing outside of NASCAR, he'll likely have a wide-open array of options. He's already started a bit of a budding career in the Rolex Sports Car Series under the Ganassi banner, and he has two wins in the 24-hour endurance race at Daytona International Speedway. A potential return to IndyCar may be in the cards, or Montoya may find a racing series in his native South America in which to compete.

Montoya will end up somewhere. His time in NASCAR hasn't diminished the reverence of an ability that led him to dominate CART in 1999 and win seven Grand Prix during a five-and-a-half-year Formula One career. But just like his move to NASCAR, Montoya will seek out the opportunity that likely sounds the most fun and entertaining. It'll also be a competitive team, so don't expect Montoya to become a NASCAR back marker bouncing between start-and-park jobs.

A winner of more than $35 million in on-track purse during his NASCAR career, Montoya can certainly take his time to find a suitable replacement gig. Where that replacement opportunity actually is remains to be discovered, but IndyCar would be wise to snag the former Indy 500 winner and CART champion. They can use all the big name drivers they can get.  IndyCar, are you listening?

08/13/13 "We did not renew the contract for next year," Team co-owner Felix Sabates told SiriusXM’s NASCAR channel. "It was a difficult decision. He understands. You have to move on in life sometimes. It’s frustrating for everybody when you know you’ve got good equipment and you can’t seem to put everything together still."

So the team cut Montoya apparently.  Sabates thinks the team has good equipment and Montoya was to blame.  If so then how come Jamie McMurray isn't winning either?  So who else will take him in NASCAR?  What other NASCAR sponsor wants a Colombian?  Probably none.  So where might he end up?  Perhaps IndyCar but he will have to get himself in shape.  As it stands today he has gotten too fat to win in open wheel racing.

08/13/13 Rumor has it that Juan Montoya could be headed back to IndyCar if he can get the right deal.  The Colombian was never a perfect fit for the red-neck American NASCAR crowd who don't take well to foreigners, and IndyCar could use a couple of big name NASCAR drivers to bolster their popularity.

Juan Montoya in 2000 in CART

Montoya was an extremely fast open wheel driver.  His talent was wasted in NASCAR where the Ganassi team could never give him as good a car as they field in IndyCar, where the win on a consistent basis.  The question now is whether he has lost the fast reflexes needed for open wheel racing driving taxicabs - - what Niki Lauda refers to as 'lazy' racing.

Montoya wants to get back to winning on a consistent basis and his talent can shine through in the near-spec IndyCar Series which puts a premium on talent.  However, he can make more money in NASCAR, but he has made his money.  Montoya has a burning desire to win again.  That is what motivates him.

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