September 22, 2006 6:36 pm EDT

Notes: Montoya ready to roll
By Bob Margolis, Yahoo Sports

Ganassi and Montoya. (Getty Images)
DOVER, Del. – A deal has been struck that will allow Juan Pablo Montoya to begin testing with Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates' NASCAR operation, possibly as soon as next week, Yahoo! Sports has learned.

Montoya has been unable to practice in a stock car due to a contractual issue with his soon-to-be former employer McLaren-Mercedes F1. An agreement releasing Montoya from his contractual obligations to his F1 team is necessary before he can begin testing with Ganassi.

That agreement has been reached, according to a source within the Ganassi organization.

Details of the agreement have not been disclosed, though an announcement is expected soon. Ganassi/Sabates officials want the former F1 and Indy 500 winner behind the wheel of one of their cars as soon as possible in order to prepare for his entrance into Nextel Cup next season.

Tentative plans have Montoya running at least four races and as many as nine before the end of the season, including the Busch Series races at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami and the Cup finale at Homestead – all markets with large Latino populations.

Montoya also might run the ARCA race at Talladega in October, which would give the Colombian experience on a restrictor plate superspeedway. Although there is no question as to whether Montoya will qualify for a mandatory NASCAR license, NASCAR officials have expressed a desire to have Montoya get as much experience as possible behind the wheel of a stock car before the start of the 2007 season at Daytona.

Texaco/Havoline will be the primary sponsor of Montoya's ride.

Gordon likes the blue oval

After failing to strike a deal to buy Robert Yates Racing – twice – Robby Gordon began making known his desire to be the No. 2 team with Ford (behind Roush Racing) instead of his current status as, at best, the No. 5 Chevy team.

Officially, Gordon says "as of now, we have no manufacturer deal for 2007," but RGR has chosen not to renew its association with Chevrolet after this season.

That leaves Gordon looking at Ford, Dodge and Toyota. And while Gordon has a past relationship with Toyota, his team doesn't fit into Toyota's immediate NASCAR plans. A source with a manufacturer says Gordon is most closely looking at Ford, which is in line with Gordon's recent comments on the subject.

Ford officials have declined to comment as to the status of their relationship with Gordon, although they have acknowledged having a dialog with the owner/driver. In the meantime, Gordon's team has moved ahead with plans to expand its operation by building a new facility and expanding to two cars in 2007.

Speculation centers on Motorola being one of the primary sponsors for the second car.

Wells still searching

After struggling for several seasons against the three- and four-car teams that have become the norm in Nextel Cup, single-car team owner Cal Wells still is in search of an alliance with another team that would help take his program to the next level.

However, Wells is losing primary sponsor Tide at the conclusion of the 2006 season, and driver Travis Kvapil also been courted by other teams.

Sources within the garage indicate that Wells has been talking to several teams – including Yates – about a possible alliance for next year, which also makes Wells a potential Ford team next year should a deal with Yates be made.

Wells currently campaigns Chevrolets. As of now, Wells also has no manufacturer commitment for 2007.

Busch race in Montreal

NASCAR officials will announce next week that its much-anticipated Busch Series debut on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal will happen on Aug. 4 and not July 22 as previously reported, according to a source close to the situation.

That puts the race date on the same weekend as the Nextel Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, some 400 miles – but a short flight – away.

NASCAR officials had expressed hope that the race would attract a substantial contingent of Nextel Cup regulars, which would have been more easily accomplished had the race been staged on a Nextel Cup off-weekend. But running the race during a Cup weekend obviously makes it less likely that large numbers of Cup drivers will participate.

With that, the August date also places a question-mark on the level of interest expected from Canadian fans.

When fans attending last month's Champ Car race in Montreal were asked about a Busch race at the city's downtown Formula One venue, nearly all expressed an interest in the race, but only if NASCAR's biggest names would be competing.

This season seven Cup drivers also race full-time in the Busch Series, with the most visible this season being Kevin Harvick. However, next season, with the new Car of Tomorrow making its debut, the attraction of running in both series will not be as strong.

Also, Harvick already has announced that he will not be back to defend his expected Busch title next season.

Additionally, should the Busch race schedule next season remain the same as this year, the Montreal race would leave the series back-to-back road course races – with Watkins Glen – for the first time in its history.

The back-to-back events would present a potential strain on the resources of some of the series' smaller teams, as preparing road course cars for two consecutive weekends could be difficult.

Short takes

  • After Loudon race winner Harvick spent the week defending himself against a Speed Channel report accusing him and his Richard Childress Racing team of cheating, Harvick's wife Delana sent out an email to all the PR representatives that handle her husband's affairs stating that all until further notice, all requests made by Speed Channel for any interviews are to be declined.

  • When asked about the cheating allegations against RCR, team owner Jack Roush said, "I learned long ago that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

Veteran motorsports writer Bob Margolis is Yahoo! Sports' NASCAR reporter. Send Bob a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

Updated on Friday, Sep 22, 2006 6:36 pm, EDT

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