April 01, 2011
With the news that Kimi Raikkonen is coming to NASCAR, the reigning open-wheel-champ-turned-stock-car driver Juan Pablo Montoya offered a bit of perspective on the arrival, as well as some thoughts on the whole open/stock dynamic in general.
"II think it would be cool if he comes here," Montoya said. "He's a cool guy and I think he would fit right in." But when asked about why drivers aren't going the other direction, away from NASCAR ... ah, that's when the fun began.
"There were rumors a couple of years ago that Kyle could have gone to Toyota in Formula One and this and that, I don't know," he said. "The series is a lot higher than people think it is. I think people here are underrated at our level against worldwide. I think maybe if you would get the numbers of how many people internationally are watching these races not only in America but in Europe and Asia, I think you would shock yourself. I think they are pretty amazing."
And those of you who've slagged Montoya? Guess what, you've got a new standard-bearer for the sport: "People in Formula One are very selfish," he said. "They think there is nothing better out there. You look from technology-wise, there's not. But the actual racing, this is exciting. It's exciting to watch, it's exciting to be here. When you hear about ovals and sometimes you watch them, the first time you watch it by yourself, [you say] 'oh yeah, it's a circle.' But if you come and actually see how fast we're going in real life, they go, 'oh yeah, that's a lot faster than people think it is.'"
But Montoya noted that there's a significant change in attitude that has to take place for an F1 driver to succeed in NASCAR. "When you're young, you take every lap like it's the last lap," he said. "When you go out and try to do that here, you're not going to blend in and you're not going to do well. When you learn to take care of the car, be smart and make moves when you have to make moves, or learn to give up a place or two when you have to, it's part of learning to be in NASCAR. When you understand the system it works really well."
A more mature, calmer, contemplative Juan Pablo Montoya? This is an April Fool's joke, right?
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