Juan Pablo Montoya
BRISTOL, Tenn. - We know that open-wheel ace Juan Pablo Montoya can win in a stock car on a road course.
And last week Montoya earned a career-best fifth- place finish in the Nextel Cup at the mile-and-a-half oval Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The question now is what will happen to the former Indy 500 winner and Formula One star when he hits the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway for 500 circuits.
After finishing fifth last Sunday in Atlanta, Montoya said, "We go to Bristol, that's going to be a nightmare."
When the green flag falls for Sunday's Food City 500, 160,000 fans in the grandstands are going to be wondering how long it will take for Montoya to experience a "Bristol Baptism" and hit the wall.
The one man other than Montoya who should know if the 31-year-old Brazilian is ready for "The World's Fastest Half Mile" is Chip Ganassi Racing team manager and Kingsport native Tony Glover.
Glover told the Times-News earlier this week he is expecting a perfectly clean 500 miles for Montoya. Glover added, however, that Montoya may be better prepared for Bristol than some people think.
"I will say one thing," Glover said. "That guy is amazing. He's the fastest learner I've ever seen.
"Granted, coming into Bristol as a rookie he's probably going to get into a skirmish somewhere in the race. That wouldn't surprise me. To be honest, if he came out of there with a top 10 or a top five, that wouldn't surprise me either because the guy is amazing. He sure is fast, I know that."
Montoya qualified 36th for Sunday's race, which will put him in a treacherous starting position. Glover said he expects Montoya to be patient and use his head.
"He knows this is a lot different from anything he's done in the past," Glover said. "The last thing he wants to do is get out there and get into trouble early on. He's a smart driver, and he'll get used to Bristol pretty quick."