NASCAR

Montoya offers advice to Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen Juan Pablo Montoya
Kimi Raikkonen (left) talks with Juan Pablo Montoya at Charlotte.
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Lee Spencer

Lee Spencer is the Senior NASCAR Writer for FOXSports.com. She has provided award-winning coverage of auto racing over the last 15 years. Spencer has lent her expertise to both television and radio and is a regular contributor to SiriusXM Radio and the Performance Racing Network. Follow her on Twitter.

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CONCORD, N.C.

Juan Pablo Montoya is all about commitment when it comes to making the transition from open-wheel racing to NASCAR.

As the most successful driver to ever make the jump from Formula One racing to the Sprint Cup Series -- stock car’s top tour -- Montoya knew it was all NASCAR or nothing at all. And that’s the advice Montoya has for Kimi Raikkonen, who is scheduled to make his Nationwide Series debut next Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I think his chances are good if he commits,” Montoya said. “I think he’d be OK. But I think he just wants to see if he likes it before he commits. I don’t think he’s made up his mind. He likes to have fun. He’s a guy that likes to have fun. I think that’s the main reason he’s here.”

When Danica Patrick decided to test the stock car waters last season, Montoya told the IndyCar racer to decide between the two series. Montoya said the rumors “make sense” that Patrick will concentrate on NASCAR full time in 2012 behind the wheel of a JR Motorsports ride in the Nationwide Series, if indeed she is serious about making the Sprint Cup Series her eventual home.

Montoya competed against Raikkonen in Formula One, but this weekend at Charlotte was the first time the pair had seen one another since 2006. Raikkonen made his debut in the Truck series and sources say he will compete in the Nationwide Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway May 28.

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“You have to commit,” Montoya reiterated. “You can’t be jumping from one car to another and Kimi is going to see that. I think it’s more than smart to make your first start at Charlotte. I think it’s brave.

“I think he has to run all the laps and learn -- and make adjustments. because when you run open wheel and I think what he runs in Rally, there’s really not much he can do once the car is set. Here, you run the full spectrum throughout the race and he’s going to learn the more he does the better he will get.”

Montoya was impressed with the way Raikkonen raced in his debut.

"I think he did a really good job," Montoya said. "I wouldn’t expect anything less."

Working with others on the track will help Raikkonen as well.

Montoya says that is the key to learning the ropes quickly.

"I think when you follow people, you learn what they’re doing and you can pick it up a lot faster," he said.


 

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