Montoya, Stewart feud could be brewing

By Bruce Martin
PA SportsTicker Contributing Editor

FORT WORTH, Texas (Ticker) - When Juan Pablo Montoya joined NASCAR, he realized he would have his share of run-ins with the proven stars of the sport.

Montoya may have met his match with Tony Stewart after both were involved in a crash in Sunday;s NASCAR Nextel Cup Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The two were involved in a fierce fight for position before the two cars touched in the fourth turn on lap 239. That sent Stewart’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo spinning out of control before Jimmie Johnson ran into it.

Although both cars were able to continue in the race, Stewart spun out again in the fourth turn in a crash that also involved Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch.

Montoya finished eighth, 17 spots in front of Stewart.

Both drivers had a shot at a top finish before the collision, which allowed Stewart a chance to take a shot at Montoya, a former Formula One driver.

“He just got inside of us and wrecked us,” said Stewart, the 2002 and 2005 Cup champion. “When you’re a rookie, you do stuff like that so it’s just part of racing.”

Montoya doesn’t fit the normal classification of “rookie.” He was a star in the old CART series and won the 2000 Indianapolis 500 before heading off to Formula One, where he won seven times as a grand prix driver.

Montoya knew that stock car racing would be a difficult challenge but has proven to be a quick learner.

Stewart believes Montoya still has lots to learn.

“You earn respect by doing things that are smart and out and trying to pull out of line with 110 laps to go coming to the green flag doesn’t make much sense,” Stewart said of an earlier incident with Montoya. “If you race people with respect you get respect.

“He took us out.”

Of course, Montoya had a different view of the situation.

“He just got really close to me,” Montoya said. “I went into him and he spun. I tried to pass him three or four times and he never gave me room. We touched a little bit and the next I see he’s spinning.

“I think anybody that has seen me race knows that I’m not going to back down. I respect everybody. Anybody who has a run at me I’ll give them enough room to race, but that’s just racing.”

The driver from Colombia believes he was hired to get to the front even if it means angering a few drivers.

Montoya made no apologies to the way he raced Stewart.

“I don’t think Chip Ganassi hired me to run 20th every weekend, and I didn’t come here to run 20th every weekend,” Montoya said. “Our aim is to run up front.”

Stewart offered a quick response to Montoya’s comments.

“I guess we’d better get out of his and Chip Ganassi’s way, then,” Stewart said. “I’ve kind of adopted a Matt Kenseth motto. I’m going to race people how they race me. When you do something like that and try to get me in a bad spot on a restart, if you’re racing that hard in the beginning then why shouldn’t I race him hard?

“I’ve got the same right to do the same thing but he took us out.”

Montoya has obvious talent as indicated by his finish.

“Two weeks ago I was happy with a 19th-place finish and I finished eighth today and I’m a little disappointed,” Montoya said.

In a sport where ego is just as important as horsepower, and where friendship never gets in the way of racing, Stewart issued a warning to Montoya.

“He didn’t make friends with me today so he won’t get any help from me in the future,” Stewart said.

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Updated Sunday, Apr 15, 2007