F1/NASCAR News: JPM to Ganassi

F1 fans and NASCAR fans alike, pick your jaws up from the floor.

Juan Pablo Montoya is leaving Formula 1 to drive the Texaco Havoline #42 for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates next year, replacing Casey Mears.

Funny thing: the guy’s won the Indy 500 and a number of F1 grands prix, but before February 2007 he has to get certified by NASCAR to be able to enter the Daytona 500.

I have my doubts about how well this will work. The list of open-wheel drivers who have had success in NASCAR is very short: Tony Stewart and… I guess Robby Gordon, but 3 wins, 2 on road courses isn’t too spectacular. Guys like Christian Fittipaldi, Paul Tracy and Jimmy Vasser haven’t had much luck. Al Unser Jr. did have a little success in a one-off Daytona 500 run, but the odds are not with JPM.

He’s going to run some Busch races and maybe a couple of Cup races later this year to prepare for next season.

Anyone else shocked and amazed?

Shocked and stunned. Stunned and shocked.

Yeah, I don’t get it. Admittedly, he’d be 31 next year, which is getting up there for an F1 driver, but still… it’s a big risk.

He’s getting into quality equipment (Mears has been top-10 all day today, and finished second at Daytona this year) but the odds of him stepping in and winning a championship are slim to none, especially when his only laps in a Nextel Cup car came during that car swap with Jeff Gordon on the Indy road course a couple of years ago.

If he’s determined to be successful and Ganassi gets the right people working on the car, I think he can be a winner. Running the majority of the Busch schedule next year to get more seat time will be helpful, and he’s going to get a lot of international attention, which is good for NASCAR. Brian France has to be loving this.

That guy has been unmitigated shit in an F1 car. I’m not coming here to tell you that F1 is the pinnacle of racing or anything, or that the competition there is so much greater; I don’t watch enough American racing to know. But I do know that from the word dot, “JP” has been an irritating, over-rated, whiny primadonna to rival that whiny bitch of all whiny bitches, Jacques Villeneuve. He can cock off, and good riddance. Yes, I know he’s achieved the occasional good result, but he’s been sat in cars that monkeys could have driven to victory. The guy is simply crap. Ganassi has bought an absolute lemon.

Mind you, I think this is true of approximately half of the F1 grid, not least the driver I’m supposed to be supporting out of patriotic fervour or some such rubbish, Jensen Button. Pleh.

Hmm, I seem to be in leftover “strident opinion mode” from the World Cup final. Do excuse me. :slight_smile:

I don’t know that I’d agree completely with your assessment. Certainly it’s been true of his tenure at McLaren, but Williams got a lot better in a hurry when he replaced Mr. Button.

I don’t think he’s going to be Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart, but I think he will be at least as good as the guy he’s replacing, and probably better. Even if he’s not, NASCAR will do everything they can to help him out, because he’s going to be a goldmine for them in the Hispanic community (or so they hope.)

And, to the surprise of no one, McLaren has released JPM from his contract:


This is good for him, because now he can make some Busch starts and an all-important ARCA start at Talladega in October, which will get him eligible for Daytona in February (pending completing preseason testing in January.) Mears has two more Busch starts on his calendar, and Sorenson’s running the full Busch season, so I’d bet that either Mears will get out of the car or Texaco will sign on for a couple more races to get him some seat time.

This is gonna be interesting.

Yeah, late to the thread, sorry.

Chip needs to, IMO, step back and remember it takes some grooming to start a driver in the Cup series. Some drivers, such as Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, can prove themselves champions be it stock cars, sprints, late-models, etc. Some drivers can win no matter the equipment.

Some NASCAR drivers have proven skill in some areas (Boris Said, punk-ass-bitch Robby Gordon), and get a ride they aren’t financing for a few races a season. If Chip wants to replace Mears, he needs to seriously rethink this. If he’s looking for name recognition, he damn well better try to lure Danica away from DW, cuz Waltrip will do whatever he can to get her in his stable.

(Coming from a Hendrick fan, but still good strategy.)

Chip, get Juan in the Busch series as soon as possible. Race him in the Busch series and ARCA all next year with a few starts subbing for the lower-tier drivers in the garage when you can.

Don’t throw him in the Cup season within a year of moving over. It’s too different. The racing is different and you know it. I know you want the sponsorship money. But you’re in a rebuilding year. You can afford it. The money you’re throwing Montoya will need to be made up in the near future. You aren’t going to win the Cup next year, look to the year after.

Too many owners are on edge of losing dominance. It’s better to have a team people can rally around than a team that sees the money being spent on repairing $130,000 cars put into the wall because a driver is racing what he’s used to, instead of what he’s racing now.

Actually, maybe I should hope for Juan to race next year. Mears is gonna kick some ass with the 5, 24 & 48 as teammates. :cool:

duffer, I agree with you that it’s going to be a rough transition for him.

That said, I don’t think Chip’s concerned about the money, because rumor has it “Dr. Z” and DaimlerChrysler are about to start pumping a LOT of money into NASCAR. In fact, I’ve heard some people speculate that they’re helping pay for JPM’s contract (since he’s staying in the corporate family.)

That should be his official name.

I don’t follow much F1, but NASCAR is suffering from an overwhelming number of mediocre drivers who hang out in 20somethingith place. There are the returning champions like Stewart and Gordon (Jeff), the kids that are going to be champions like Kyle Busch and Kahne, the old and moldys like Petty and Labonte and Marlin, and as Kurt Busch once said the “never were’s” and aren’t going to be’s like Gordon (Robby) and McMurray. We can probably argue all day about why that is, but getting talent from other series is not going to hurt NASCAR one bit. Adding money and R&D from Toyota and Daimler is the same thing.

And I agree that next year’s Hendrick garage is going to be fun to watch. :cool: