NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Drivers Conclude Test at Homestead-Miami * Fifty NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers participate in three-day test * Juan Pablo Montoya working on NASCAR learning curve DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 18, 2006) -- Chip...
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Drivers Conclude Test at Homestead-Miami
* Fifty NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers participate in three-day test
* Juan Pablo Montoya working on NASCAR learning curve
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 18, 2006) -- Chip Ganassi Racing's newest driver knows his assimilation into NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competition will require patience and a sense of humor.
It's the small surprises -- particularly the interaction among series teams -- that have delighted Juan Pablo Montoya thus far.
His NASCAR education continued this week at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series' final open test of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway -- Montoya's first participation in a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup test session.
A former Indianapolis 500 winner and Formula One star, he'll drive the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge in 2007. And he cites the openness of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup garage as a personal eye-opener.
"I think it's great to see how competitive it is out there when it comes down to business and how casual it is back here," Montoya said of the contrast between the on-track and garage environments. "It's a great atmosphere. "Homestead-Miami Speedway will host the season-finale Ford 400 on Nov. 19. Montoya's Ganassi team was among the 14 who tested Wednesday, the final day of the three-day session; he drove a No. 30 Dodge both days.
Montoya tested while receiving plenty of input. He admitted his amazement when Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) visited his garage bay Tuesday, the second day of the test, and offered set-up hints. Teammates Casey Mears, the current driver of the No. 42, and Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Target Dodge) helped with more suggestions.
"Both Casey and Reed got in my car yesterday and they ran my car," said Montoya, who visited the Homestead-Miami Speedway infield media center prior to Wednesday's test session. "You know, we don't do that in Europe. If you see somebody struggling in Formula One, you never see someone go and say, 'You're making this wrong.' You actually go to your guys and you say, 'You see what they're doing wrong?'"
Among other topics Montoya addressed was his move from Formula One to NASCAR. He says he's aware there may be differences of opinion on whether he'll succeed, and when, but he knows any success will take time and perseverance. Following the Homestead-Miami Speedway test, his next step will be his NASCAR Busch Series debut -- Oct. 28 at Memphis Motorsports Park.
"For me, I'm here for the long run whether they like it or not," Montoya said of observers and critics. "Do I want to succeed? Of course, I want to succeed. Is it going to be easy? No. Am I going to have good races? Hopefully yes. Am I going to have bad races? Definitely yes. It's part of it."
Montoya's July announcement that he would join Ganassi's NASCAR organization continues to spark interest and debate among media and fans alike. On Wednesday, he offered his opinion about how NASCAR is viewed in Formula One circles.
"You know, I think in Europe NASCAR is not regarded as high as it should," Montoya said. "You know, I think people don't know what it is exactly, how competitive it is. They're used to Formula One where the technology is extreme. But the crazy thing here is how limited the rules are for technology, how far they go with the cars. If you would bring an engineer from, like, Formula One and show them how detailed the cars are, they would be shocked."
The Homestead-Miami test marks the final of six designated 2006 tests for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams.
This year, NASCAR instituted a new testing policy to encourage a more level field of competition and help teams be more cost efficient, with these six tests (Daytona, Las Vegas, Richmond, Charlotte, Indianapolis, and Homestead-Miami) the only opportunities for teams to test at NASCAR NEXTEL Cup tracks.
The Homestead-Miami, test began Monday and ended Wednesday, with teams allowed to test on two of the three available days. All sessions began at 1 p.m., and ended at 9 p.m. (ET), with a dinner break from 5-6 p.m.