Penske to put Montoya back in NASCAR?
Juan Pablo Montoya is a full-fledged IndyCar Series driver again, but his stock car racing days may not be done.
Montoya has ran the last seven seasons in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, netting a meager two wins (both on road courses) in 253 starts. After winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2000 and then moving on to a solid career in Formula One from 2001-2006, the Colombian’s Cup tenure was largely mediocre.
However, comments from Penske Racing president Tim Cindric during Montoya’s test session today at Sebring International Raceway have brought up the possibility that we could see Montoya in a car with fenders again down the road.
“I think he has some unfinished business in the stock car,” Cindric opined. “At the right time, we may put him in one of our cars that we feel is competitive. I think it’s an interesting thing to do. We have to mutually commit to this. This needs to be where the success needs to be to start with.”
So far, Cindric has been impressed with Montoya’s initial work in a Team Penske IndyCar at Sebring. While he understands that Montoya is still making strides toward a sense of comfort in the cockpit, Cindric is confident that his team’s newest driver will be quick to get everything down pat.
“This guy has done it before and he knows he can be successful,” he said. “It’s going to be a little bit of a time. I know he’s a good study. Before he came here, he watched a lot of video. He doesn’t sit around and think he’ll hop in the car and be fast.
“I think he’ll be a lot like [teammate] Will [Power] in that he will come to the race prepared. Will knows what happened the past few years, what he did, what the other guys did. Juan came here prepared and did his homework.”
Cindric also hopes Montoya can help provide a new character to Team Penske, which hasn’t won an IndyCar Series title since 2006 with Sam Hornish Jr (now in NASCAR).
“Trying to understand that championship mentality is something we failed the last four, five six years,” he said. “We should have half the championships from that span, but we don’t. Maybe Juan can bring us that kind of mentality.” NBC Sports Promoting NASCAR at an IndyCar test (With partners like that, who needs enemies?)