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Montoya Brings Aggressive Driving To NASCAR

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Juan Pablo Montoya

Montoya Brings Aggressive Driving To NASCAR

Lauren Woods
April 20, 2007

Last summer, Formula One standout Juan Pablo Montoya announced that he will be competing on the NASCAR races. During his announcement he said that he was excited to bring his aggressive style of driving to the motorsport.

In Formula One, Montoya cemented his reputation as one of the most aggressive professional race car drivers today. While his skills combined with his unique style made him one of the most talented drivers today, he seems to be having trouble making friends in NASCAR as his aggressive style of driving seems to be rubbing his fellow NASCAR drivers the wrong way.

While NASCAR racing is more aggressive than Formula One, there is a limit to one’s aggressiveness on the tracks. And that is what Montoya is still trying to find out. Currently, the Colombian driver has already wreaked havoc on his fellow drivers with the season just starting. In Mexico, Montoya accidentally forced his teammate, Scott Pruett, off the road at the road race in the Busch Series. The road race saw Montoya securing his first win in the new field that he has entered. He has also reportedly “annoyed” Jeff Gordon in Atlanta. Montoya also ran into Ryan Newman and Tony Raines at Martinsville. Aside from those incidents, Juan Pablo Montoya also managed to annoy two-time Nextel Cup Champion Tony Stewart as he tangles with him at the recently concluded Samsung 500 which happened in Texas.

In response to the criticism that he receives over his aggressive driving, Montoya has this to say: “I don't think Chip (Ganassi) hired me to run 20th every weekend, and I didn't come here to run 20th every weekend. Is (contact) going to happen? Yeah, it's going to happen a lot of weekends, but our aim is to run up front.” He added that: “I think anybody that's seen me race knows that I'm not going to back down.”

In the recent incident involving Montoya and a fellow driver, it seems that the “rookie” will be having a hard time adjusting to the sport. Stewart, the latest victim of Montoya’s aggressive driving style, has this to say: “If you race people with respect, you get respect. You might want to be just a little bit more patient just long enough to learn how everything's done over here.” NASCAR aficionados have even compared Montoya’s aggressive driving to the skills of NASCAR legends like the late Dale Earnhardt Sr.

The common thinking is that aggressive drivers can have good success in the sport but they have to make sure that their aggressiveness is channeled so that it comes as not to be counter-productive.

Montoya’s start tote season is quite respectable. Being from Formula One, it is expected of him to eventually win in the NASACR races. Currently, the aggressive driving Colombian posted a win at the Busch Series and has already managed to get a couple of top ten finishes in the Nextel Cup. In Texas, the former CART champion managed an eighth place finish. He is driving a Dodge which is yet to win a race at the Nextel Cup. Currently, Dodge, Ford, and Toyota, are being dominated by Chevy at the Nextel Cup series. Equipped with for-race engineered engines which leaves far behind the performance of on-road Chevy vehicles equipped with the Chevy cold air intake system.

While Montoya is yet to show his true worth in NASCAR, drivers in the sport agrees that Montoya has got the talent to be come successful in the motorsport. Even Stewart said that Montoya is the most talented driver in his team. Although admitting Montoya’s flair for the game, Stewart added that: “He didn't make friends with me [at Texas], so he won't get any help from me in the future.”

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