Let’s be clear about one thing: Juan Pablo Montoya has racing talent. The former Indy car and Formula One ace has outlasted a number of other NASCAR converts from the open wheel ranks, and his driving is a thing of beauty on the road courses (see Watkins Glen for example). One crew chief once said of JPM, “I could watch that guy race all day every week.”
With that said, you have to wonder when he will ever learn. Once again, Juan Pablo Montoya (see Richmond for reference) reacts to contact with his car by intentionally laying a fender on the offending party, without regard to the other’s intentions or the long term consequences to his own interests.
In a true moment of irony, it was Denny Hamlin- a hard charger himself- who offered this assessment: “Every time Montoya has damage, you see who did it, they usually end up getting racked. You usually know that’s coming. You have to realize, Montoya, I like him, I think he’s a helluva driver, but you can’t wreck everyone every time you get in an accident. Accidents happen. Guys make mistakes. Why hold grudges. Makes it tough to get in the Chase, too.’’
Talent Montoya has, emotional restraint is another matter. He doesn’t seem to have saving his stuff down, either. JPM knows only one speed: flat out. If the man wants to have more than a few road course victories to his credit, he’s going to need to learn to pick his battles. You’d think that by his fifth season, he would have figured it out by now.
Contrast that to Kyle Busch at Richmond. Like him or not, whether you buy this “new Kyle” talk or not, it’s hard to deny the 2011 edition of Kyle Busch seems to have his wits about him. Think about it, amidst all of the chaos of Richmond, it was Busch who said, “You had to be patiently aggressive, that’s for sure. You definitely had to make sure that you stuck your nose in areas where people or spotters would say that you were there.”
Say what you will, the guy’s about winning, prompting one unnamed crew chief to say he’d work for Kyle in a heart beat. He’ll still take chances, and no one’s naïve enough to think we haven’t seen the last of Rowdy’s “wild side.” He truly hates losing, a quality we all wished more drivers had. By the same token, he has spoken words to the effect of being tired of being a so-called “black hat,” and that maybe, he’s got bigger fish to fry.
Kyle Busch wants to be a champion. He’s racing like it, and he’s talking like it. His on-track behavior thus far in 2011 reflects that.
Juan Pablo Montoya continues to show flashes of brilliance, but come on man, pick your battles better- or at least settle your dust ups after the race. A 36 race schedule at 300 to 500 miles a pop is an endurance test, not a sprint. If JPM wants to be a winner, he’s got to learn to ratchet things down like Kyle has….or Chip Ganassi may need to invest in getting crew chief Brian Pattie a degree in psychology.
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