Montoya lands on podium in stock car debut

Juan Pablo Montoya's official reunion with Chip Ganassi Racing kicked off at Talladega Superspeedway. Montoya made his first start in a stock car since he left Formula One for the No. 42 Ganassi Dodge in the NASCAR Nextel Cup series.

Juan Pablo Montoya.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

The transition to a stock car was pretty easy for Montoya - he grabbed the outside pole for the ARCA Food World 250 and passed pole sitter Bobby Gerhart on the first lap to lead his very first stock car race.

"I think it was fun, but I think it was a third of the fun I will have in the Cup car here," said Montoya. "

Montoya led until lap 10, when Gerhart made the pass to grab back the lead. Montoya was hanging tough in the top five until he made his first pit stop in a stock car; things didn't go so well and the lengthy stop forced him to 20th.

Montoya worked his way back up to the top ten when was hit sustaining minimal right front damage during a melee on lap 36 that caused the third yellow. He restarted 31rst, the last car on the lead lap.

With 31 to go, Montoya had worked his way back to 12th. A caution, the day's fourth, slowed his progress. After pit stops, Montoya restarted sixth with 25 laps left to be completed.

Montoya quickly shot to second and announced to his crew to tell Steven Wallace (who was leading) that he was going to stay in second spot until 1- 2 to go and then "all bets were off".

Unfortunately, Montoya did not get his chance. With 14 to go, ARCA officials called the race because of darkness, giving Frank Kimmel his first career restrictor plate race and leaving Montoya in third.