Montoya ready for Cup start

Juan Pablo Montoya is ready to make a splash in the city he calls home this weekend. Montoya will make his Nextel Cup series debut at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the NASCAR season finale on Sunday. Montoya was tapped to make the switch from open...

Juan Pablo Montoya is ready to make a splash in the city he calls home this weekend. Montoya will make his Nextel Cup series debut at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the NASCAR season finale on Sunday.

Montoya was tapped to make the switch from open wheel to stock cars earlier this year when Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Racing announced that he would replace Casey Mears in the No. 42 Dodge in 2007.

Since then, Montoya has tried his hat in a handful of Busch series events preparing him for the switch. After making the show on time during qualifying for Cup teams, Montoya will take to the track with the best racers in America and have the opportunity to show what he has in the cockpit of a stock car.

"I think I'm a fast learner," commented Montoya. "Driving the car is no big deal. Driving the car is not the most important thing. The do's and don'ts are the hardest things here. Anyone can put it in the field. You get two clean laps and it's all about the car. I come out of the Busch car today, and I make sure I don't overdrive the car."

There is no question to Montoya's driving ability, but he readily admits that the learning curve from open wheel cars to stock cars has been tough.

"When you come from open wheel, you don't understand that the car behind you can affect the car that's in front," explained Montoya. "We're not used to that. In open wheel, the guy behind gets hold of your dirty air and that's it. You always need to pay attention to your spotter to know if the car is on the outside or if the car is on the inside. You've got to know what the car is going to do, and when you follow somebody you always need to keep your nose clean. All that makes it really hard. I could probably have been running faster than I've been running, but I don't want to make any enemies. I've been really cautious about how you make your moves."

Montoya will pull double duty this weekend, also driving a Ganassi Dodge in the Busch series event. He qualified 29th for the Ford 400 Cup race and turned the 30th fastest lap in morning practice for Nextel Cup teams.

"Yes, it's stressful," Montoya quipped. "You don't get any second chances. One of the hardest things I'm getting the handle on is you go out on cold tires. It takes forever to get heat in the tires and then it's straight down to business. It's pretty cool."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya