By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
If you asked fans during Juan Montoya’s 2007 Rookie Campaign if they thought he could become a methodical and consistent driver in the Sprint Cup Series they would of emphatically told you NO. You can’t blame anyone for doubting the Columbian back then. He struggled early on in his career, in 2007 he was running into everything except the pace car. Last season Montoya finished 25th in the championship standings.
Now fast forward two seasons, where Montoya is now proving everyone wrong.
With just five races to the chase for the cup Montoya sits 8th in the point standings and is all of a sudden one of the most consistent drivers in the Series. In his last eight races Montoya’s worst finish is a 12th place, not to mention coming into 2009 he had nine career top 10 finishes, already in 2009 he has ten top 10 finishes.
A few weeks ago Montoya had the Brickyard 400 all sewn up, but a pit road speeding penalty relegated him to an 11th place finish, he followed that up with a 2nd place finish last week at Pocono. This week the Cup Series heads to his strong suit the road course Watkins Glen.
So how has he come so far so fast?
It is simple… Montoya and his team have been thinking “big picture” all season, focusing on great point days instead of laying it all out there for the win. In doing this Montoya does not have a DNF all season, when he had nine DNF’s in 2008.
Now Montoya barring any unforeseen circumstances looks destined for a berth in the Chase, but can Montoya win the championship? If you were to ask anyone they would say “NO”, well remember we underestimated him before, but before we had a reason. This time around JPM is one of the most consistent drivers in NASCAR. Don’t be surprised if this team comes to life in the chase.