Montoya excited to leave NASCAR for IndyCar

LOUDON, N.H. (AP) - Juan Pablo Montoya considered staying in NASCAR and making the jump to Furniture Row Racing.

But he says the pull to return to IndyCar and team with Roger Penske made it easy to say no and end his underwhelming stint in stock cars.

“When you get a chance to run for Roger, I wouldn’t turn that down,” Montoya said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Montoya won the 1999 CART title, the 2000 Indianapolis 500 and 11 races driving open-wheel for Chip Ganassi. He then moved to Formula One, where he had seven wins and 30 podiums, before reuniting with Ganassi again in 2006 to compete in NASCAR.

The results in NASCAR were sporadic. Montoya has just two wins in 244 career starts and his best season finish was eighth in 2009. He’s 20th in the standings this season. Ganassi decided in August not to bring Montoya back next year to his NASCAR program.

With a shortened schedule in IndyCar, Montoya could run in select NASCAR races next season, such as the season-opening Daytona 500. Montoya said that decision was up to Penske.

At least one 500 awaits. The Indianapolis 500.

“Going back to the 500 is a big deal,” Montoya said. “I know Roger hasn’t won it since `09. I’m one for one there, so hopefully we can make it two for two.”

Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon were among the IndyCar stars who texted congratulations to Montoya. Montoya met Will Power this week.

“They all said they all knew sooner or later you would convert back,” Montoya said. “It is fun. It is fun because you learn a lot of different things. When you go to Europe, it is all about yourself and not about the team. You learn to be a team player over here. I think that is going to help us huge.”

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