Juan Pablo Montoya had his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series victory at Infineon, making him the third driver in history to win races in Formula One, IndyCar, and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. The former Formula One world champion debuts on Kansas Speedway's 1.5 mile tri-oval in the Kansas 400 on September 30.
Montoya's expertise on the road course comes from years of racing in Formula One. And with an Indianapolis 500 Championship under his belt, he already mastered open-wheel cars on ovals. But to conquer NASCAR's top stock car series was a new challenge - one that he faced head on, looking for his first win in 2007.
"It's unbelievable, actually. In open wheel I was meant to be winning in and in stock cars I wasn't," Montoya said. "To get our first win in our first year is huge."
Montoya won the Indy 500 driving for Chip Ganassi in 2000, then moved on to Formula One in Europe. After becoming a Formula One world champion, Montoya returned to join forces with Ganassi in NASCAR. With both Ganassi and Montoya eager to reach NASCAR's victory lane, the pair were able to build on a winning relationship.
"We've had our share of pundits and reasons for that sort of thing over the last four or five years since we visited victory lane and I had a hard time finding the place," Ganassi said. "We've got a guy that pushes the pedal. That sure helps. It feels pretty good to be here (victory lane), to tell you the truth."
Montoya won with little fuel left in the No. 42 car. Like the Kansas 400 last year, front-running teams were conserving fuel to finish the race. On lap 77, several cars pulled onto pit road for fuel, bumping Montoya from 11th place to third. Montoya passed Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray to take the lead, praying for enough fuel with seven laps left.
Montoya is the first Hispanic driver to win in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and the first foreign-born driver to win since 1974. He now sits in 21st place, just 259 points out of the top-12 in the Race for the Chase.
Join Juan Pablo Montoya and all the drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup at Kansas Speedway on September 30 - the third race in the Chase. Also catch the NASCAR Busch Series Yellow Transportation on September 29. For tickets, call 866.460.RACE or order on-line at www.kansasspeedway.com.