By admin | February 14, 2012
By Richard Allen
Juan Pablo Montoya has been a fulltime Sprint Cup driver since 2007. And while the Colombian native came to NASCAR with a significant amount of fanfare as a result of having won the Indianapolis 500 and the Grand Prix of Monaco, his career in stock cars has been somewhat lackluster. In his time in this form of racing he has only managed to qualify for the Chase for the Championship once back in 2009.
A major factor in Montoya’s span of mediocre results has centered around his inability to adapt to oval tracks. While few if any would question his skill on road courses, he has struggled to capture the nuances of those tracks featuring all left turns.
Montoya has scored two Sprint Cup wins and one Nationwide Series victory while in NASCAR. All of those checkered flags were captured on road courses.
Of course, NASCAR is a predominately oval racing series which means no driver can be truly successful without being able to consistently compete on those tracks. And of those oval circuits, the often maligned 1.5 to 2 mile ‘cookie cutters’ make up a significant portion of the Sprint Cup schedule. It is on those tracks where Montoya fares the worst.
On tracks located in Texas, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Homestead-Miami, Kansas and Michigan this driver’s average finish is higher than 20th. Those races make up almost 1/3 of the schedule. When it is considered that Montoya’s average finish is higher than 20th at Dover, Indianapolis and Richmond, the number of facilities in which his average finish is in the back half of the field surpasses 40% of all events on the schedule.
In 2011, Montoya’s stats were among the worst of his career. He placed a very disappointing 21st in the final Sprint Cup standings with no wins and a meager two top-5 finishes along with eight top-10s. He did manage two poles over the course of the campaign.
For the coming season, former Hendrick Motorsports engineer Chris Heroy has been brought in by Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing lead the #42 team for Montoya. It was also said by both he and teammate Jamie McMurray that the organization had worked hard over the off season to build new cars which they hope will improve the performance of both drivers.
At 37 years of age, the time is approaching in which Juan Pablo Montoya must start to show significant improvement on those tracks mentioned above if he is to ever be a consistent contender for race wins and the Chase for the Championship at the Sprint Cup level. Perhaps his new crew chief and the team’s new cars will provide the necessary ingredients for that improvement in 2012.
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