Juan Pablo Montoya was a star in open wheel racing, but his success never carried over to his time in NASCAR. So when Chip Ganassi Racing said he would not be returning to the Sprint Cup team next year, speculation began that he would return to his roots and it became official today when it was announced that he will drive the No. 2 car for Team Penske beginning in 2014.
Montoya joins Will Power and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves to form a formidable lineup at Penske and the deal could also occasionally bring him back to NASCAR. It can also be seen as shot back at Ganassi, one of Team Penske’s chief rivals in both series.
“I am really excited to join this legendary team beginning next year,” said Montoya in a release. “I have had the opportunity to drive for some of the best racing teams in the world and I have always admired Roger Penske and his organization. I consider it an honor to be offered the opportunity to drive for Team Penske.”
The Bogota, Colombia native has a stellar résumé in open wheel competition. He won the 1999 CART title and recorded 10 wins and 14 poles in his two years there before moving on to Formula One where he tacked on seven victories and 30 podiums. His only start in the IZOD IndyCar Series resulted in the biggest victory of his career when he won the Indianapolis 500 at the tender age of 24.
“Juan is a proven winner at all levels of motorsport,” said Roger Penske, who is based in Mooresville, NC. “He has won a lot of races and championships and he has an extremely passionate fan base. We look forward to building on his successes together and we believe he will be a great addition to Team Penske.”
In either NASCAR seasons, Montoya had just two wins in 244 starts that included nine poles, 24 top-5 and 58 top-10 finishes. His only victories came in 2007 at Sonoma and 2010 at Watkins Glen, both road courses. After his lone start in 2006, the popular driver did not miss a race the rest of his NASCAR career.