Montoya gives Patrick advice on move to NASCAR
AP Auto Racing Writer
LOUDON, N.H. (AP) – Juan Pablo Montoya offered some friendly advice to IndyCar star Danica Patrick, a free agent who could possibly opt to jump to NASCAR in 2010.
“I think she’s got the talent and everything, but I don’t think she knows what she’s getting into,” Montoya said when asked how Patrick would do if she made the move from open-wheel racing to stock cars, as he has done.
The Colombian driver, a former CART series champion, Indianapolis 500 winner and Formula One star, wasn’t referring to the media circus that such a move by racing’s glamour girl would create.
“(The cars are) so different to drive,” the Sprint Cup driver said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “It’s not the same feeling. When you drive an open-wheel car on an oval, you have the grip, you turn the wheel and it turns, you get on it and it goes and you get on the brakes and it stops.
“This (type of racing), it goes more with the momentum. You’ve got to give time to the car and you’ve got to get used to the feeling that you’ve got to go fast when the car doesn’t feel right.”
Montoya, having his best season since moving from F1 to NASCAR in 2006, said getting used to 3,450-pound stock cars after driving the much lighter and nimbler open-wheel cars is a challenging and sometimes frustrating chore.
“With time actually it becomes kind of normal,” he said. “Like for me driving the Cup car now it’s normal. I’ve finally got to a point where I go every week and I’m not surprised, it doesn’t feel weird, it doesn’t surprise me … and that takes a long time.
“If she comes, I’m sure she can do it. But it doesn’t matter if you come to a winning team or anything, it’s going to take time.”
Patrick has said she doesn’t plan to make any announcements until after the IndyCar season ends in October.
“That’s for after the season and we’ll worry about it then,” she said last week.
LOOKING FOR MORE: Kyle Busch has three wins and stands ninth in the season points, but the 24-year-old NASCAR star isn’t happy with his recent results.
In the last six races, Busch has one finish better than 13th – a sixth-place run in the rain-shortened race at Charlotte.
“We definitely need to be better than where we’re at,” Busch said Friday before the start of practice. “It’s so frustrating to just try to get a finish out of the day and ultimately you can’t even get that. You’re just trying to get a top-10 or a top-15 with what you’ve got and then something happens.”
Busch said his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team isn’t ready to accept mediocrity.
“It’s just not what this team likes, it’s not what this team is used to,” he said. “It’s just very hard to put together a perfect day anymore … Last year, everything fell right, even though we had to pit, everybody else had to pit so it sort of cycled out and we finished up front. This year, it just seems like it isn’t going right.”
Busch said the answer is having better race cars.
“We need to get them where I feel like the (No.) 14 (Tony Stewart) and the (No.) 48 (Jimmie Johnson). They can pass cars. Anytime that I ever need to go somewhere and go forward, I can’t ever go forward, I’m always stuck where I’m at. We might have a good front-run car for the first five laps or whatever. We might have a good long-run car the last 10 laps. But, by then, it’s too late.”
Noting that drivers like Stewart and Johnson have been able to start from the back of the field and race to the front, Busch said it made him and other struggling drivers look stupid at times.
“We need to make our cars like that where we make everybody look stupid instead of us being the ones that look stupid,” he said.
ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY: A year ago this week, Joey Logano made his Sprint Cup debut on the 1.058-mile New Hampshire oval.
“This is a lot, lot better,” the 19-year-old rookie said Friday. “Last time I was here, I was 43rd (in practice), and this time I was top of the board for a little bit. It goes to show what laps and some experience can do.”
Logano replaced two-time series champion Tony Stewart in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing entry this season, and the youngster has had some growing pains.
He is 24th in the season points, with three top-10 finishes – all ninth-place runs – in 16 starts.
“Are we where we need to be … yet? Absolutely not,” Logano said. “But I think we’re a lot closer. If we pick up this much in another year, it’ll be awesome. (We’ll) be up there battling for wins every race.”