The Andretti Autosports outfit could expand to a five-car operation in 2014, with team owner Michael Andretti confirming that he is looking to add a star driver to his driving roster: former CART champion and ex-Grand Prix winner Juan Pablo Montoya.
The Colombian – who won seven Grands Prix in his six-year F1 career with Williams and McLaren before making a surprise switch to NASCAR – has found his services will no longer be required by Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR Sprint Cup operation, leaving the portly 37-year-old on the market.
Montoya’s NASCAR career has not lived up to the hype that greeted his arrival in late-2006. While he proved to be a popular addition to the paddock – which increased with each fiery confrontation he had with other drivers – this didn’t translate into on-track success, yielding just two race wins to-date.
“I’ve driven against him and I think he’s one of the best drivers I’ve ever driven against. It comes down to sponsorship. So we’re looking; if it’s a possibility, we want to do something with him.”
Montoya raced for two years with Chip Ganassi Racing in CART – replacing the F1-bound Alessandro Zanardi – winning the 1999 title and backing that up with a brilliant victory in the following year’s Indianapolis 500. Andretti, then in the twilight of his open-wheeler career, raced against him during this time, with Montoya claiming eleven wins to the American’s three over the two-year period.
Montoya was a popular figure during his CART and F1 stints, breaking the mould of his peers by being an outspoken driver, qualities which Andretti believe could prove a popular addition to the increasingly sanitised IndyCar Series paddock.
“I think he could bring what he brought the last time – it seemed like when he raced, half the stands were full of flags supporting him,” Andretti added.
“When he first got to NASCAR, he had a huge effect there. He brings a huge crowd, a huge support. He’s a big personality, and he could be a good personality for IndyCar because he definitely has that ‘don’t give a [crap] attitude.’”