Montoya's Cup debut goes up in flames

Juan Pablo Montoya said Friday that all he wanted to do was not be a factor in the Chase for the Championship and finish the race. It didn't quite work out that way. Early contact with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. caved part of the No. 8...

Juan Pablo Montoya said Friday that all he wanted to do was not be a factor in the Chase for the Championship and finish the race.

It didn't quite work out that way.

Early contact with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. caved part of the No. 8 DEI Chevrolet's left rear bumper. As Montoya tried to ride around he made it into the top-10 before dropping back mid-pack.

Later, perceived contact between Montoya and Newman, which sent Newman into the wall. Several laps later, trouble erupted when Ryan Newman's No. 12 Penske Dodge got into the back of Montoya sending him backward into the wall.

After he hit, the No. 30 Ganassi Dodge erupted into flames red-flagging the race on lap 254 and prolonging Jimmie Johnson's race to win the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup.

"I don't know I think the 12 tapped me in the back," said Montoya. "I don't know who tapped me I don't really care. The Texaco/Havoline Dodge today worked really well. Everybody did a great job for me. It's going to be hard. I knew when I signed with Chip that it wasn't going to be easy."

Newman denied the contact was intentional, "What happened out of turn four was totally my fault. I lost the car. I got into him and we got door to door and that spun me around. Down here, it was anybody but racing's fault in my opinion. His car came across the nose of mine. I felt bad for the situation because obviously it looked like we were retaliating, but that's not the case."

Newman was called into the NASCAR trailer to discuss the situation. "I felt bad for the situation," Newman continued. "I did not crash him on purpose and we will go on."

For his first Cup start Montoya thought he did a pretty decent job overall, "I am racing against great drivers and it was awesome racing against them today. I think I have been getting better and better race by race."

Montoya was hired by Ganassi to run the NASCAR Nextel Cup series full time in 2007 replacing Casey Mears in the No. 42 Dodge. Since the announcement, Montoya has run several Busch and ARCA events to prepare for the move from open wheel to stock cars.

In his Nextel Cup debut, Montoya earned a 34th place result.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya