Chip Ganassi and Juan Pablo Montoya (JPM) announced this morning that JPM would be driving NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch next year. JPM is an accomplished Formula 1 driver, currently with Maclaren Mercedes. He also won the 2000 Indy 500, plus the CART championship in 1999.
JPM said he has an offer from Frank Williams to race F1 next years, and one other offer, which means he's not taking the only job he can find. He heard Ganassi had a driver opening, called him and said he would like the job.
If you're not a fan of auto racing, the news means little. If you are, it's a magnitude 15 earthquake.
I expect JPM to quickly acclimate to the heavy, slippery cars of NASCAR, then begin to clean house. Remember when Nigel Mansel went from F1 to CART? Watching JPM in NASCAR will be similar except for one big wild card: NASCAR has 25 competitive teams, not three, as in most other top racing series.
There are three huge changes for NASCAR Nextel Cup next year: The "car of tomorrow" debuts in March 2007, Toyota becomes the first foreign manufacturer in Cup in years, and now JPM. It will be a season to watch. The France family must be giddy.
Now if we can only get Boris Said a full-time ride in Cup...