The Norman Transcript

Sports

September 17, 2013

Montoya changing gears

(Continued)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

“My No. 1 choice was going to be in a winning car. I really wanted to be in a winning car,” he said. “It came down to I wanted to race for Roger. In a way it’s always been one of my dreams to be able to be part of his organization. Being here, it’s unbelievable. I’m so excited. I’m like a 5-year-old kid right now.”

Some could also consider the move a big piece of gamesmanship in the racing rivalry that spans two series between Ganassi and Penske. Castroneves and Ganassi driver Scott Dixon are currently locked in a fierce battle for the title, and the competition has heated up over the last two races as Dixon has been involved in incidents with Power and the Penske organization.

“He’s a great driver and deserves a great drive,” Ganassi told The Associated Press. “He will have that there at Penske Racing.”

Montoya won the 1999 CART title, the 2000 Indianapolis 500 and 11 races driving open-wheel for Ganassi. He then moved to Formula One, where he had seven wins and 30 podiums, before reuniting with Ganassi again in 2006 to compete in NASCAR.

But results in NASCAR have been sporadic. Montoya has just two wins in 244 career starts and his best season finish was eighth in 2009. He’s 20th in the standings this season.

The program has been through several rebuilds since Montoya came aboard, and it was a middle-of-the-road organization when he signed on in 2006.

Their first NASCAR season was decent and gave the organization a boost with a win on the road course at Sonoma, six top-10s and rookie of the year in 2007. But 2008 was the first sign of trouble as Montoya had two crew chief changes in the first 16 races.

Montoya made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in 2009 with crew chief Brian Pattie behind a career-best 18 top-10s, and he was third in points with six races to go in the season before fading to eighth in the final standings.

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