BROOKLYN, Mich.–By the time Juan Pablo Montoya got the official word that he was out of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Chevrolet at the end of the 2013 season, it was almost an anticlimax.
For months, Montoya had known the parting was coming, and he had already begun to explore other options.
“I think I knew from quite a while ago, to be honest with you,” Montoya told reporters Friday at Michigan International Speedway during a question-and-answer session behind the No. 42 transporter. “They (EGR) had an option earlier in the year and they didn’t take it, so I kind of knew it was going to be something different next year, and that’s it.
“They confirmed it this week, and that was it.”
As to what the future holds, Montoya has only one requirement.
“The only thing I said already is I want to be in a winning car,” he said. “Whatever else I do–don’t know what I’m going to do–but I want to make sure I’m in a winning car.”
What kind of winning car remains to be seen. The 2000 Indianapolis 500 champion, Montoya also has seven Formula One victories on his resume. A return to open-wheel racing isn’t out of the question.
“I have talked to a lot of people–put it that way,” Montoya said. “I don’t want to be specific about anybody. I know some people are interested, and I just want to make sure whatever I do, as I told you, (that) I have an opportunity to win races.
“I grew up winning, and I’ve won at everything. I won some races here, but I miss dominating.”
During his media availability, however, Montoya did provide a couple of revealing clues. The first involved loyalty to a particular manufacturer.
“Apart from the relationship with (sponsor) Target, the relationship with Chevy is really important to me,” he said
The second was an indication that seven full seasons in NASCAR racing–with just two road-course wins to show for his efforts–may be enough.
“I was committed to NASCAR, and when you’re committed to NASCAR, you want to make sure your head is in NASCAR,” said Montoya, who ran the second fastest lap in Friday’s opening Sprint Cup practice (203.132 mph).
“My heart always has been in open wheel. I had a lot of fun in NASCAR–and, you know, we will see.”