DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Michael Schumacher apparently can’t understand why Juan Pablo Montoya would leave Formula One for NASCAR.
Montoya, for his part, doesn’t seem to care what the seven-time world champion thinks.
“Schumacher in America is nobody,” said Montoya, who’s steadily building on an already strong United States fan base.
Montoya, preparing his new Dodge Charger this week for the Daytona 500, was responding to comments Schumacher made last weekend.
“Personally, I wouldn’t do it,” Schumacher told the New York Times. “What do you do in NASCAR? What is exciting there? I can’t see that, running around on ovals.”
Although Montoya said he thinks Schumacher could make the transition, he said he’s learned firsthand that stock cars are much harder than his former F1 foes believe.
“People don’t understand what a big challenge this style of racing is,” Montoya said. “Michael Schumacher, just take him to Homestead (Fla.) and tell him to stay half a second off the pace. He would have a heart attack.”
Montoya is proving to be a fast study, pacing Tuesday morning’s test session with a fast lap at 184.574 mph. David Stremme, his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, was second at 184.479.
The two held their own in the afternoon drafting session, with Montoya running 15th and Stremme 18th.
The confident Colombian, who won a CART championship and the Indianapolis 500 before moving to F1, said he believes experience would give him the edge on Schumacher should the two ever go door-to-door in NASCAR.
“It would be a hard transition (for Schumacher) for sure,” he said. “It’s not an easy transition. I had the advantage that I raced two years of ovals and did a little bit of stock cars with little ones when I started my career. All that really helps.”
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Signing Juan Pablo Montoya is already paying dividends for Chip Ganassi, and the start of the NASCAR season is still three weeks off.
Montoya, co-driving a Lexus Riley Daytona Prototype with veteran road racer Scott Pruett and Mexican phenom Salvador Duran, is in elite company. He and racing great Mario Andretti are the only drivers to have won the Indianapolis 500, an American open-wheel championship, a Formula One race and, the Colombian’s latest conquest, a sports car endurance race at Daytona International Speedway.
A Porsche Fabcar prototype driven by Formula One test driver Gaston Mazzacane of Argentina slid off track and hit a barrier protecting a light pole in the infield portion of the 3.56-mile road circuit Saturday night.
Mazzacane was briefly unconscious and spent the night under observation at a hospital. Officials said he had no serious injuries and was expected to be released Sunday.