Feb 08 2007

Juan Montoya the All South-American Boy

If there is anything that can compare to the DEI controversy that is currently going on, it is the focus on Juan Montoya’s first full season in Nascar, and according to Mark Aumann, of Nascar.com, says he is taking it all in stride and called him the All-(South) American Boy. He also called him the most suave spokesman for Dodge since Ricardo Montalban peddled Chrysler Cordobas and their “fine Corinthian leather.” If it wasn’t for Jeff Gordon and his interest in the open wheel cars, Juan might never have even driven a stock car.

“When I drove Jeff’s car, I was really comfortable in it,” Montoya said. “I was talking to Chip [Ganassi] about it and it really motivated me to do the deal.

“I got in it and within three laps on a road course, I was up to speed. I thought it felt good.” Source: Montoya embracing role as the ‘new guy’

Sounds like a racer all right. While he is drawing comparisons to legends like A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti, who also made the transition from open wheel racing, this time it is different, Juan says he’s in it for good, unlike AJ and Mario, who never really left the open wheel world, and Nascar is hoping he will bring new fans with him, both open wheel and Hispanic.

NASCAR is hoping the Colombian-born Montoya finally will unlock the door to a new — and diverse — fan base. With Montoya, NASCAR in essence is trying to do what CART tried but failed to accomplish: Market itself to the untapped and growing American minority population.

“It’ll change this place forever,” Homestead-Miami Speedway President Curtis Gray said after Montoya’s Nextel Cup debut in November. “We’ve got a good motor-sports fan base here, but in order to grow, we’ve got to attract the Hispanic market. To have a driver they can relate to and root for is a reason for them to come to the speedway.” Source: Montoya making big jump

Juan has said that Nascar drivers are much friendlier than the formula 1 guys, at least when you compare the talk in the garage.

Learning how to adjust to the “nice” garage-area banter between competing drivers; in F1, it’s “every man for himself,” to the point where drivers quietly celebrate another driver’s ignorance.

And he is already drawing praise from his fellow drivers, like Jeff Gordon who said he did some drafting with him to try to evaluate his progress, and he said Juan pushed him to the lead once, so he was happy with him so far. ;)

2 Comments

  • By ovalfan, February 8, 2007 @ 10:34 pm

    I like Dale Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, but I’m also expecting some big things from Jaun Pablo this season. I can’t wait to see how it shapes up.

  • By webmaster, February 9, 2007 @ 12:20 am

    Should be an interesting year, I would expect a big return by Biffle, Stewart and especially Gordon, with his renewed focus because he and his wife are expecting their first youngun.

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