Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Juan Pablo Montoya to NASCAR
Following on the heels of the recent Champ Car World Series roster moves, both Formula 1 and NASCAR were simultaneously shaken up on Sunday. Star F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya announced his immediate departure from team McLaren/Mercedes, stating he will begin preparations to drive for Chip Ganassi in the NASCAR Nextel Cup next season. According to Sunday's press conference, Casey Mears will surrender his seat in the #42 Dodge to Montoya, familiar to American racing fans as the winner of the 1999 Champ Car title and the 2000 Indy 500. The Columbian is a marketing dream for NASCAR, itself planning to expand into Latin-American markets. His aggressive driving style and occasionally-public temper should make for an excellent fit in the NASCAR scene.
An interesting coincidence is that Montoya participated in a Speed Channel promotion called "Tradin' Paint", where he and Jeff Gordon swapped cars for a day of hot laps at Indy during the festivities for the 2003 U.S. Grand Prix.