Those who have followed the post-Talladega Nights stream of Formula One refugees fleeing to NASCAR will be happy to learn that former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya has been awarded Rookie of the Year in the Nextel Cup.
The announcement of Montoya's citation comes right after the series' season closer at Homestead, where Jimmie Johnson took the title after a hot season-long showdown with teammate and title rival Jeff Gordon.
Montoya becomes the fourth Rookie of the Year for Texaco/Havoline Racing, who, in their 21 years in NASCAR have also sponsored star newcomers Davey Allison (who got the award in 1987), Kenny Irwin, Jr. (1998) and Jamie McMurray (2003). Montoya's award also calls to memory the Rookie of the Year award which fellow former F1 driver Robert Doornbos took this year in Champ Cars with Team Minardi USA, which likewise crossed the ocean to oval tracks for this past season. They're coming for you, Ricky Bobby.
Press release after the jump.
[Source: Chip Ganassi Racing]
MONTOYA NAMED 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL CUP RAYBESTOS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
CONCORD, N.C. (Nov. 19, 2007) - Juan Pablo Montoya, with the support of
his Texaco/Havoline team, won the 2007 Raybestos Rookie of the Year
(ROY) title after collecting one win, three top-five and six top-10
finishes in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Montoya became the fourth
driver for his primary sponsor Texaco/Havoline to earn the prestigious
honor, and second for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS).
"This season has been a great season for me and the Texaco/Havoline
team," said Montoya. "Earning the Raybestos Rookie of the Year title is
an honor and it means a lot to me, my team and our sponsors. This title
and our victory at Infineon are things to cheer about within the team
and the organization. I think more importantly is how the performance
of my team and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates elevated through
the entire year. It gave me the opportunity to win this award."
Texaco/Havoline, which just celebrated its 21st year in the sport as a
primary sponsor, has adorned the firesuits of four rookie winners.
Montoya joins Davey Allison (1987), Kenny Irwin, Jr. (1998) and Jamie
McMurray (2003), who have carried the star to a rookie title. Montoya's
Crew Chief Donnie Wingo and his team have led their second rookie to the
title in four years. Wingo, along with a majority of the
Texaco/Havoline crew, worked with McMurray during his impressive rookie
run in 2003. It is CGRFS' second title in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.
This is Montoya's second rookie title for Team Owner Chip Ganassi - he
captured the 1999 CART rookie title for Ganassi's open-wheel team. That
very season, at the age of 24, Montoya proceeded to set several CART
Series records en route to claiming his first and Ganassi's
fourth-consecutive CART Championship. Montoya claimed a record breaking
seven wins in his rookie season, including the most consecutive wins by
a rookie (three) and the most laps led by a rookie (954).
"I think winning the Raybestos Rookie of the Year was a really nice
ending to Juan's season," said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. "What he was
able to accomplish this season in just his first in a stockcar was
nothing short of phenomenal and the great thing is that he is only going
to get better. Now I just can't wait for 2008 to begin."
Montoya will participate in several media events over the next two weeks
to honor his rookie title. He will attend the Raybestos Rookie luncheon
tomorrow at the Speedway Club at Lowe's Motor Speedway from 11 a.m. to 1
p.m., and officially pull the yellow stripe from the bumper of his No.
42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge. Montoya will then travel to New York when the
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series invades the city next week. He will dine at
the 21 Club from 1 to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 28, with Cup Series
Champion Jimmie Johnson, and receive his official award at the NMPA
(National Motorsports Press Association) Myers Bros. lunch at Cipriani's
on Thursday, Nov. 29, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Montoya joins an impressive list of drivers who have captured the Rookie
of the Year title, and many who have gone on to win the NASCAR NEXTEL
Cup title. In addition to the drivers from Texaco/Havoline's history,
Montoya joins Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace, Jeff Gordon,
Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth who were all past ROY winners. Montoya
also becomes just the second driver in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup history born
outside the United States to win rookie of the year. Canadian Earl Ross
won the title in 1974.
About Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
With 13 wins already in 2007, including the company's best stretch in
history with six victories in 30 days, CGRFS continues to add to its
tally of 89 trips to victory lane. Chip Ganassi created his own one-car
IndyCar team in 1990 and established a partnership with a new sponsor,
Target. Today, his teams include two IRL IndyCars, one Indy Pro Series
car and along with Felix Sabates he has three cars in the NASCAR NEXTEL
Cup Series, two entries in the NASCAR Busch Series and two Daytona
Prototypes in the world of Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series
racing. Ganassi's IndyCar teams have amassed five Championships and 56
wins since 1994; his NASCAR teams have 12 wins and a Rookie-of-the-Year
title; and the Grand American team has won two of the last three Rolex
Series Daytona Prototype Championships and is the two-time defending
Champions of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Chip Ganassi Racing operates out
of state-of-the-art race shop facilities in Indianapolis, Ind., and
Concord, N.C., with a corporate office in Pittsburgh, Pa.