Juan Pablo Montoya will make a return to NASCAR this weekend as he has been officially entered into the upcoming race at Michigan International Speedway (MIS). The driver, who left NASCAR fulltime for the Verizon INDYCAR Series, will be driving the No. 12 car for Penske Racing.
The entry list for Michigan includes 45 drivers competing for 43 starting positions. The Michigan race will be one of two races in the 2014 season that Montoya will attempt to start for Team Penske. It will be Montoya's first race in NASCAR since leaving his full time ride with the No. 42 team after the 2013 season ended at Homestead.
The second race Montoya will attempt on the 2014 NASCAR schedule after Michigan will be at Indianapolis in July.
It makes sense that Michigan would be one of the tracks that Montoya will attempt a start. First, it fits well into his full time INDYCAR racing schedule. Secondly, Michigan has been a track where Montoya has been able to show off his driving skills in the past. He has 14 NASCAR career starts at MIS and has finished in Top-10 three times.
Montoya, originally from Colombia, raced for seven seasons in NASCAR Cup Series Racing for Chip Ganassi Racing from 2007 to 2013. He brought home the checkered flag twice during that time. He also scored 24 top five finishes and grabbed the pole position nine times. He is largely credited with expanding the fan base of stock car racing into the Spanish speaking community during his tenure as a Cup Series driver.
Montoya came to NASCAR after a storied career in open wheel racing where he
won the Indianapolis 500 in 2000. He also won the International F3000 championship in 1998, and the CART FedEx Championship Series in 1999. He is a winner across racing as he has claimed the checkered flag in Formula One, CART, INDYCAR, Grand-Am as well as NASCAR.
After last season (2013) Montoya returned to his open wheel racing roots and the Verizon INDYCAR Series starting with the 2014 season.
The race attempts on the NASCAR racing circuit with Penske shows that, even though the driver has moved back to open wheel racing, his name is still a big draw for NASCAR fans. Montoya is known for his broad smile, sense of humor, as well as his driving abilities.
As of now the plans for the two NASCAR races are both with Team Penske and only include the upcoming Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan and the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis on July 27. For both races his teammates will be Penske drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, who have combined for three wins heading into the Championship chase.