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Fontana Notes: Montoya Offers Danica Advice

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, October 9 2009
Driver Juan Pablo Montoya says Danica Patrick should think twice about racing in NASCAR. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Driver Juan Pablo Montoya says Danica Patrick should think twice about racing in NASCAR. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer

Fontana, Calif. – Former Indy 500 champion and Formula One star Juan Pablo Montoya believes it would be a mistake for Danica Patrick to run a partial stock car schedule next season while competing for the 2010 Indy Car Series championship.

“I wouldn’t be driving both cars, to be honest,” said Montoya, third in the Sprint Cup Chase standings entering Sunday’s Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway. “I just wouldn’t. I wouldn’t do it because they drive so different. You’re going to get comfortable in one thing and then you’re going to make it to the other thing and every time it’s going to be like night and day.

“When I drive the 24 hours and I get to Daytona, it feels really weird. And I’ve been driving stock cars for three years now. I do two test days and the race and come back for the (Daytona) 500 and it feels really weird to drive again.

“So I wouldn’t.”

Count Greg Biffle among the drivers in favor of the Sprint Cup Series moving to more uniform start times in 2010.

“I think it’s a great thing, I really do,” Biffle said. “Fans want to do other stuff during the day. I believe that the 1 o’clock start is the right thing to do.

“It’s the same every week, that’s the most important. It’s kind of been all over the map. I think 1 o’clock is going to help us.”

Based on Montoya’s recent string of consistent finishes, there is very little margin of error to stay in contention to win this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Fifteenth in points following the race at Dover in May, Montoya’s name wasn’t regularly mentioned as a title contender.

But after piecing together 11 top 10 runs over the next 16 weekends, the Bogota, Colombia native is a serious threat to dethrone three-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.

“They’ve been strong,” veteran NASCAR driver Jeff Burton said. “As the year goes on, that’s the most improved team. They’ve made the biggest stride throughout the season, in my opinion.

“And then know they’re getting where they’re running well on all types of race tracks. If you had told me in March that’s where they would be, I wouldn’t believe it. But the way they’ve run the past three months, it doesn’t surprise me.”

Still nursing a broken foot, Carl Edwards showed up at Auto Club Speedway Friday morning without his crutches. He accidentally left them at his home in Columbia, Mo.

“I meant to bring them but I left them, and I panicked this morning,” Edwards said. “I said, ‘Man, I don’t even have them’

“But I remembered that NASCAR’S medical folks have a set they’ve been carrying around for me in case I wrecked so I don’t have to stand there on one foot – I can at least crutch to the ambulance.”

Once he’s finally cleared from his doctors to dispose of his crutches, Edwards has a game plan to celebrate.

“I’m going to break them over my knees,’ he said.

So without the crutches, has he considered doing his celebratory backflip if he wins Saturday Nationwide Series Copart 300 or Sunday’s Pepsi 500?

“Hell no,” Edwards said, as he limped out of Auto Club Speedway’s driver interview room.

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, October 9 2009
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