A vote for Montoya

Photo by John Thawley Peter M. De Lorenzo is a national columnist who founded, a highly-regarded website devoted to news, commentary and analysis of the auto industry. He is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the business today.As reluctant as I am to actually write about NASCAR this week - probably as much as the people who read this column on a regular basis are wincing about reading about it I’m sure - I feel that Juan Pablo Montoya deserves more than a little attention for making “The Chase” for the Sprint Cup. Convoluted and contrived as it is, “The Chase” will, for the first time, have a foreign-born driver in the field of twelve and I’m glad it’s the great Colombian who walked away from the political cesspool that has come to define Formula 1 to live life in Miami and give American-style stock car racing a whirl.

And in his third year, it appears that Montoya is well and truly getting the hang of it.

No, Juan Pablo probably won’t win it - although it would be perfectly delicious if he did, seeing as it would send the NASCAR establishment into fits of hand-wringing I’m quite certain - I hope to see him go for it in his balls-out style, now that he’s in the “Chase” and doesn’t have to do the points-racing regimen.

Anyone who doesn’t believe that Montoya isn’t one of the most talented drivers ever to don a helmet really doesn’t have an appreciation for what he has accomplished in just three seasons in NASCAR. To leave what was then considered to be the top rung of international road racing and take on a completely different driving discipline like NASCAR with its predominant mix of short, medium and long oval tracks punctuated by just two road races - and succeed - is a tremendous accomplishment and a testament to Montoya’s talent. Other notable road racers have tried NASCAR and have not had nearly the success in the sport that Juan Pablo has, not anywhere even close as a amatter of fact. Montoya was walking away with the Brickyard 400 at Indy this year, only to run afoul of the pit speed limit, and even though the tracks that make-up the “The Chase” are allegedly not on Montoya’s radar screen for running well (based on earlier season performances), I expect Juan Pablo to acquit himself quite well.

As for who will win “The Chase” it will be between four drivers: Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon - in what will probably be his last real shot at the championship due to his looming retirement - and Jimmie Johnson.

But I also hope Montoya and Kyle Busch (who didn’t make “The Chase”) run well and make it very interesting.

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