F1 Stars moving to NASCAR?
I know NASCAR is really catching on with the whole Ricky Bobby thing happening, but when a former F1 champ like Jacques Villeneuve wants to go around in circles it is just amazing. Considering that the current two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart is also a former IRL champion and stars like Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman has open wheel backgrounds, the transition has been successfully made before. Paul Tracy, a CART series Champ is currently running in the Busch series, but in an underfunded (read as crappy) car, and just announced a five year contract extension in CART with some Busch/Cup on the side.
I think the biggest adjustment for the F1 guys will be the pay cut. Even the top guys in Cup don't make as much as some mid-level F1 drivers. For example, Ralf Schumacher, who isn't exactly burning up the track in his Toyota, is rumored to get around 16 million dollars a year. Other mediocre drivers make a lot as well. To compare, Stewart "only" made $13 million in his 2005 championship run, an all time record for the Cup series.
On Jacques Villeneuve:
As it grows in stature as a major racing series both domestically and abroad, NASCAR has become more and more attractive to some of the world's top drivers.
Last week, former Formula One champion and Indy 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve – who likely will lose his ride with BMW's F1 team at the end of this season, possibly spelling an end to his F1 career – expressed interest in coming to America and a career in NASCAR.
"Going to NASCAR might not be such a bad career move because it's the most exciting race series in the U.S. and it's a very different discipline to F1," Villeneuve told the Agence France-Presse. "I would not consider it a step down. Would I consider a move to stock cars? I would."
On Juan Pablo Montoya:
Montoya's tenure in F1 has been seen as a disappointment since the very talented driver has never fulfilled his potential of becoming a champion in that series. Because of that, and his reputation for being an overly-aggressive driver, there has been little interest expressed in his services by other F1 teams
In the past few weeks, Montoya's name has been linked to his old boss, Chip Ganassi, who last month told Autosport magazine, "I'd love to have Montoya back. I'd take him in a second," a comment which many had interpreted as having the Colombian take a seat in one of Ganassi's IRL cars.
However, according to sources close to Montoya, what the 31-year-old former CART champion really is interested in is Ganassi's soon-to-be vacant No. 42 Nextel Cup car.
(quotes from a Yahoo Sports article)
Jayski has been told that Montoya has been signed by Ganassi to take over the #42 Dodge in 2007 and will run a few Busch Series races this year. UPDATE: It's official, according to NASCAR.com.
Personally, I would be kinda stoked to see JPM going to the #42 - In addition to pulling for Ryan Newman in the #12 Dodge, I have followed the career of Reed Sorenson, driver of the #41 Target Dodge, since he was 16 and driving in the ASA. As a teammate to Reed, JPM could teach the kid a thing or two, I am sure. Of course, this is the same guy who spun out his current F1 teammate, Kimi, at Indy last week...