Montoya Excited For Open-Wheel Return
Both Penske and Ganassi are in Europe and Montoya texted his current team owner to let him know that he will be racing against him in IndyCar next season.
“I feel like he was very excited for me,” Montoya said of Ganassi. “Something that we have with Chip is that we are very good friends. We have a lot of respect for each other.
“As he had to make a decision this year to go a different direction, I had to do the same thing. And I have a great opportunity and a great chance with Team Penske, and you know, we are going to be competitors and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
By making yet another career change Montoya turned down an offer with the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team in NASCAR. While others jumped to the conclusion that is where he would be after turning down Andretti Autosport on Friday that was far from reality.
“I said from my first media availability when I became a free agent, I said, I want a winning car,” Montoya said. “And they don’t come any better than Penske Racing.
“I feel like in NASCAR, that I’m to the point that if I have the right opportunity ‑ even this year, if the car has the speed, we have shown that we can compete for wins. But it came down to wanting to race for Roger. In a way, it’s always been one of my dreams to be able to be part of this organization. And being here, it’s unbelievable. I’m just so excited, I can’t believe.
“I’m like a five‑year‑old kid right now.”
Ideally, Team Penske would have liked to put Montoya in one of its cars for the final race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., next month.
“From my perspective, yeah, I’d love to run him in Fontana, but something tells me Chip’s probably not going to let that happen,” Cindric admitted. “We already talked about the fact that he’s got to stay focused and the commitments that he has on the 42 car there. We’re certainly not going to get in the way of any of that, and there’s a seat for him here as soon as he’s able to take it.
“But no, there’s no plans for that as we sit here.”
Montoya has been training hard for his return to IndyCar but admits he has a long way to go. He doesn’t plan on returning just to race; he wants to be in the shape it takes to win and be a champion.
“So I’m working towards that goal, and the good thing is that we’ve got a lot of time until the first race, so I’ve got a lot of time to prepare myself physically and mentally for it,” he said.
As Montoya prepares to leave NASCAR he believes it has been a valuable part of his racing career.
“I don’t feel like I wasted seven years in NASCAR,” Montoya said. “I think it’s been a great experience for me. It made me a lot better driver. I learned things that I think if I would have stayed in open‑wheel I would never have learned. You become a lot smarter driver.
“You can’t say that we didn’t have the success we wanted, but we did win races; we made the Chase. If you look over the Ganassi history, the only driver that’s ever made the Chase for that team, it’s me.
“So, do I want more success? Yeah, of course I want it, and the reason we are here today is because I want more success. I want to win races, and I know that it’s going to be an uphill battle mentally, physically, and learning everything again.
“But I have no doubt in my mind that I can do it.”