Montoya secretly testing?

Has Juan Pablo Montoya fallen off the face of the earth? He announced in mid-July he was leaving Team McLaren's Formula One team to join Chip Ganassi's NASCAR Cup operation for 2007. But an apparent contract dispute with McLaren has kept Montoya's NASCAR plans on hold.

However, the France family may be ready to weigh in on the situation, with strong hopes for getting Montoya in a race at its Homestead, Fla., track in mid-November. The Colombian-born Montoya lives in Miami and would likely be a major draw at that 65,000-seat track.

While Montoya apparently cannot do any official testing until his McLaren contract ends on Oct. 22 – unless DaimlerChrysler executives can resolve things – some people in the NASCAR garage say they wouldn't be surprised if Montoya is already testing a stock car somewhere anonymously, given the long learning curve ahead.

Depending on how swiftly Montoya can make the transition, he could run in either the Memphis Busch race on Oct. 28 or the Atlanta Nextel Cup race on Oct. 29. He would also be free to run at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead.

Although NASCAR officials are keeping out of the debate, saying they still haven't even received a resume from Montoya, much less a request for a driving license, they would almost certainly prefer to see him run some laps in the Oct. 6 ARCA race at Talladega, since he plans to run at Daytona in February. Winston Salem Journal

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