It's been painful to watch Montoya flog around in a tin top and seem satisfied with a Top 15 result. When he claimed his first Cup victory at Sonoma in 2007, he made us all cringe when he declared it was his “biggest win.” Sure learning stock cars involves a huge learning curve and Ganassi's Cup team isn't on the upper tier, but it just felt like Juan's fire had been extinguished – or beaten down. He certainly didn't resemble the ballsy young man who banged wheels with everyone in his determination to lead every lap. “Driving around, collecting big money and eating fried chicken,” we all reckoned.
But the fact JPM wants to get back in an Indy car and mix it up isn't just good for the IndyCar Series: it's a sign he hasn't lost that drive or desire to kick everyone's ass.
“A tiger will never lose his stripes and Montoya is a tiger,” says Kanaan (BELOW, fighting JPM at Rio in '99), who is still without a deal for 2014. “It might take him a couple of tests but look at (A.J.) Allmendinger. He was gone for a long time and it didn't take him long. All Juan needed was a kick in the butt.”
But as happy as they are to have their old pal back in the series, T.K. and Franchitti are downright giddy about the prospects of JPM toeing the company line for The Captain.
“I want to see Montoya in black slacks and shave every day, Penske-style,” said Kanaan with a belly laugh. “I may make that my Facebook picture.”