Montoya off to fast start

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 30, 2007

By Jenna Fryer

Associated Press

CHARLOTTE — When Juan Pablo Montoya grabbed his first major victory since fleeing Formula One, it solidified just what a special talent the Colombian is.

But the win Sunday by his Chip Ganassi Racing team in the Rolex 24 at Daytona also raised questions about what expectations there should be on Montoya during his first full season in NASCAR.

Maybe he won’t struggle nearly as much as everyone expects.

Perhaps the switch to stock cars will be fairly seamless.

And maybe, just maybe, Montoya will be pretty darned good.

Slow down a little bit, car owner Chip Ganassi warned, and don’t start engraving Montoya’s name on the Nextel Cup trophy just yet.

“In terms of his stock-car career, we are still in the bottom of the second inning,” Ganassi said. “That’s just being realistic of where we are at.”

The Rolex win tied Montoya with Mario Andretti as the only drivers to win the Indianapolis 500, a CART title, a Formula One race and the Daytona sports car endurance event.

“This was a big win, no doubt, a huge feather in his cap,” Ganassi said. “And maybe this shows that he’s a fast learner. But I really don’t think there’s much of a connection between the Rolex and Cup. He’s still learning a new craft, and he’s still got a long way to go.”