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Villeneuve out of F1 August 9, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in Formula 1, NASCAR, Sports.
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It wasn’t that surprising. To tell the truth, JV’s days in F1 were coming to an end, and it only happened a few months earlier than expected. Personally I’ve never liked Villeneuve too much as I never really saw him as an F1 winner. Back in 1997, when he was the world champion I didn’t really follow F1. Also, because JV was one of Montoya’s “enemies” in F1, I think I came to dislike the guy. I never enjoyed his racing style, or never saw anything exciting on him from his years in BAR, Renault, or Sauber. Villeneuve’s career has been going downward ever since he left the Williams team, and it was really funny seeing him desperately looking for a race sit in 2004 after he was fired from BAR.

Now they are saying he might go to NASCAR, like JPM did. Honestly I think it would be exciting to see him racing in NASCAR, and see another familiar face racing there. Since I haven’t been following NASCAR too much, I know very few names beyond Jeff Gordon, or Dale Earnhardt Jr.

In any case, Villeneuve in NASCAR would be interesting, but I doubt that he would have any success. I don’t think he has the same natural talent as Montoya does, or at least he’s lost the talent that he proved he had back in the 90’s. Plus, Villeneuve does not have a close relationship with a NASCAR team like Montoya does with Chip Ganassi. Even the North American media does not seem to be as positive on a potential NASCAR drive by Villeneuve, like they were when Montoya announced he would race the series. For some reason, it seems like the atmosphere is not as open for Villeneuve in NASCAR.

So, it seems like Villeneuve is not ready to quit racing just yet, and he is willing to race NASCAR if he has to. It would be interesting to see him racing a stock car, but I don’t think he would make a good race contender.

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Montoya’s move to NASCAR: the end of a bumpy career, or the next stop to glory? July 12, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in car racing, Formula 1, NASCAR, Sports.
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I was very surprised, and perhaps sad to see Juan Pablo Montoya retire from F1 to go race in NASCAR. At first sight, the move looked like a downgrade for Montoya, and the end of his carreer. He is for sure the greatest South American Driver that has stepped on a race track after Ayrton Senna, and to see Montoya’s carreer end in that way looked to me quite sad. Then, the day after, when I found out that he wasn’t even going to finish the rest of this F1 season, seeing one of the people I admire the most (for what he’s done professionally, not for his personality), end in this way looked pretty ugly to me.

However, then, after analyzing what he is really doing, and the world’s reaction, I feel a lot of a relief, and realize that perhaps this is not a bad move at all. Thinking about it, Montoya’s good days in F1 are well behind. In the F1 world there was this constant tension against Montoya growing, nobody seemed to like his style, and good results stopped showing for him. Inexplicably, Montoya was not that good feared racer anymore, and he was looked more like a driver that had a big chance of crashing out of a race, period.

So, I am sure that the offers he says he got to stay in F1 were not the greatest, and his chances to fight for a world championship in the future got down to next to none. Viewing things in this way, I see that Montoya made a not-too-bad decision in moving to another really great series like NASCAR, which is so different to F1, that it can’t even be compared, or say whether it is better or “worse” than the world championship. Montoya’s words in saying that he is going for a new challenge seem very real. That is exactly what he is looking for, another way to show his greatness; and what an opportunity. If Montoya does well in NASCAR, he will go into history as one of the greatest drivers ever, being able to succeed at every single series that he’s raced, no matter how different they are. I am excited to see this happen, something that has never been seen.

Now, when you look at the reaction of the people here in North America, the relief is bigger as, unlike in Europe, Montoya still has a very good reputation, and his move is seen as an honor to those in the NASCAR world, and very few people doubt that he will be a great race contender in the Nextel Cup. It is great to see this. Many in Europe may believe that NASCAR is a series that fit Montoya very well. After all, those ‘fat’ cars fit his style a lot better, and in general bumping tires, passing aggression, and drinking Budweiser in Martinsville instead of fine Champaign in Montecarlo, make NASCAR match Montoya a lot better than the glamorous finesse of F1. There might be some truth in this, but we still have to remember that Montoya was a F1 star as well, who fought for World Championships, and won several races.

So, I am ready to see Montoya in NASCAR, and be a witness of his trip to glory, in a cereal box styled car. I am sure Colombians will now all declare themselves experts in the NASCAR series, including myself. The good thing for me is that now instead of having to get up at 5:00AM to see Montoya race every other Sunday, I will be able to see him in the afternoon comfortably sitting on my couch almost every week, and hopefully someday I will be able to make it to one of Montoya’s NASCAR races, like I did when he raced Champ cars.