Practice made perfect for rising contender Montoya
I wrote this week for the magazine about the sudden rise of
Montoya's journey to this point has not just been about him learning to drive heavier, bulkier stock cars after spending his entire career in sleek open-wheel machines. According to
But to get such cars, the former F/1 star still had work to do. According to Pattie, Montoya has never been crazy about turning practice laps, a problem that severely limited the data that his crew had to work from when setting up his car. Before the season began, Pattie says he "convinced" Montoya that if he wanted to contend for a championship, he was going to have to turn laps with nothing more on the line than data collection.
Lo and behold, his cars got dramatically better. So much better that a few days before the Chase, Montoya told a group of reporters that all he could think now was, "How could we be so dumb?"
Montoya spent most of his season working on securing a spot in the Chase. With that mission accomplished, he has been turned loose in his faster machines to go for victories. He and Pattie debuted a hot new car at Loudon last weekend, and they will bring out two more for each of the next two races (at Dover and Kansas). Only then will they get to their fastest car of the season, the one that Montoya nearly drove to Victory Lane at Indy last July.
Montoya openly admits that he's not sure if he's ready as a driver to win a championship. But he's getting there. In his head and in his race shop. It's hard to believe he won't be back for another Chase in 2010.
I'm sure everybody's seen this, but it's just too cool on too many different levels for me not to re-visit. During last weekend's race at New Hampshire,
Anybody remember that line from
And how in the wide, wide world of sports did nobody get hurt? There are crew members from several teams swarming all around. And kudos to Ragan's team for figuring out so quickly who should go where. It was like the mirror-image of a normal pit stop.
I know you see something different every week, but I really think it's going to be a long, long time before we see anything like this again. Neat stuff.