McLaren bad boy Juan Pablo Montoya will leave Formula 1 at the end of the 2006 season to drive in NASCAR for his old boss, Chip Ganassi. Somebody get this guy a beer.

Despite his impressive open-wheel resume - CART (Champ Car) champion, Indy 500 winner, seven-time F1 winner - Montoya never really settled into the Formula 1 team environment, either with Williams or McLaren, and it looked as though McLaren was set to let him go at the end of the year in any event. With championship-contending seats looking pretty scarce for 2007, Montoya evidently decided to follow the money and return to the U.S.

For his part, F1Racing.net reports a happy Juan Pablo said after the announcement Sunday, "I am so happy to be entering the fastest growing racing league in the world... I know the transition will not be easy but I can't wait to get behind the wheel."

The Colombian will drive the #42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge in the full Nextel Cup schedule, along with a number of Busch series races. Montoya's seat at McLaren will likely be taken by long-time McLaren protege Lewis Hamilton, currently competing in GP2, although the dominos aren't likely to start falling until Kimi Raikkonen makes his intentions clear.

[Source: F1Racing.net] Thanks to Judd for the tip!