2007 Spin The highly publicized defection of Juan Pablo Montoya from Formula 1 to NASCAR will no doubt be one of the major stories of the 2007 season. He will find himself under more media scrutiny than at any time in his career. Montoya, to his credit, has welcomed it thus far. Whether he continues to take it in stride or it becomes a distraction will play a part in how he fares in his first year in the Cup ranks.
Montoya is a great talent who has proven his driving prowess overseas in equipment much more technologically advanced than what he'll see here - the difference being weight and handling issues associated with a 3,400-pound stock car and running door-to-door for 10, 20 or 45 laps at a time.
In his first races in a stock car on the ARCA circuit he performed admirably. The save he made at Talladega was one for the highlight reels, proving he is coming light years in a short amount of time. His calm demeanor inside the car has also been impressive. It attests to the fact that he is world-class in his chosen profession.
As for 2007, we expect a mix of learning on the job, taking some lumps and attaining limited success. While a win may be somewhat of a stretch at this point, we believe he could record some top 10s. No doubt he will have his races where we ask, "Is this where he gets his first win?"
An offer was made to Rusty Wallace to serve as a driver-coach, a la Buddy Baker and Ryan Newman. Wallace's TV commitments superceded, though.
Expect a lot of dented sheet metal offset by some promising runs that point to true success in 2008.