By admin | June 16, 2009
By Richard Allen
This week, NASCAR will return to the site of Juan Pablo Montoya’s first and only Sprint Cup Series win. The schedule could not have been timed any better for the native of Bogota, Colombia.
Montoya won on the road course at Sonoma, California in his rookie season of 2007. Since then, he has failed to win another Sprint Cup race but he has shown marked progress at driving these stock bodied cars on all tracks, not just the road courses.
Montoya came to NASCAR with great racing credentials. He had won the Indianapolis 500 and had won on the Formula 1 circuit, including the prestigious race in Monaco. However, none of those credentials included racing in stock cars.
While it would seem logical that Montoya would pick up the knack for racing in NASCAR on road courses first, since that’s where the bulk of his experience in racing had been attained, he is now beginning to show that he can be a threat on the oval tracks as well.
Over the last six Sprint Cup races the driver of the #42 Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing Chevrolet has collected four Top 10 finishes. Montoya has pulled himself into a competitive 14th place in the Sprint Cup standings and is knocking on the door to get into the Top 12, which is the position needed to make the Chase for the Championship.
This week’s race on the road course at the Infineon Raceway will go a long way in determining just how good Montoya’s 2009 season will be. Even though he has shown marked improvement on the ovals, he needs to take full advantage of the tracks he is best on. A couple of wins, or even solid Top 5s, here and on the circuit’s other road course in Watkins Glen in a few weeks would go a long way toward securing this driver a coveted spot in the final Chase.
If Juan Pablo Montoya makes the Chase for the Championship in only his third season of driving in NASCAR it would solidify his place as one of the most talented all around racing drivers in the world.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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