When Juan Pablo Montoya ventured into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, at the end of the 2006 season, many fans were sceptical. I was one of them.
We've seen alot of F1, IRL, and CART drivers come over to stock cars and fail, many of them American drivers, who growing up had some familiarity with NASCAR stock car racing.
So, when a Columbian born driver headed over to NASCAR, I wondered how JPM would do with fenders over his wheels.
Performance-wise, JPM showed right away that he definitely deserved a shot. He earned the rookie of the year title in 2007.
The last two seasons have been extremely successful for Juan.
He made the chase in 2009, and has been very good so far in 2010. He has been keeping his mouth shut and earning some respect.
That was, until Saturday night.
It was in 2007, at the road race in Watkin's Glen, that Juan Pablo Montoya and fellow driver Kevin Harvick got into a shoving match in an incident that was clearly Juan's fault.
Earlier that year, at the NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Mexico City, Mexico, Montoya spun teammate Scott Pruett to go on for the win.
Even in 2008, in the Daytona 500, there was a questionable move where he got into the back of Clint Bowyer, ruining Bowyer's chance at a top 10 finish.
But after the 2008 season, Juan seemed to calm down. His controversial moves decreased dramatically.
That was until 2009, when Juan was giving a sit-down television interview with a California fox affiliate.
Juan had done his interviews with the other FOX affiliates. But, before the last station, Montaya said that he needed to leave the studio he was in by 5:00.
The clock had just struck 5. He got up and left. The tv station had nothing to end their show with.
Instead, the reporter gets on, alone, and states how nice and great NASCAR drivers usually are. He also went on to say that that was the last time they would do a NASCAR interview. Not a guy we want representing our sport.
At the time, I was just starting to come around. Juan had kept his nose clean, hadn't complained much, and hand't caused any controversy.
Then, he left that TV station hanging. Once again, I was really angry with JPM.
In 2010, Juan started with a clean slate.
But right out of the gate, Montoya did something that irked people.
At the race in Las Vegas, Nevada, Juan and teammate Jamie McMurray were running side-by-side.
Jamie's car walked up the racetrack, and made contact with Montoya's Target Chevy.
Jamie took full responsibility for the incident, and apologized. Juan, teammate and all, still took liberty to throw McMurray, the Daytona 500 champion with three more wins than Montoya, under the bus. Juan stated "...I know he's trying to prove a point to show everybody he can run a racecar..."... once again, Juan didn't take the high road.
Once the commotion settled, his performance had picked up, and his mouth stayed shut.
But, in Saturday night's Sprint Showdown, Juan Pablo Montoya hit a new low.
Regan Smith's #78 Chevy was running above Juan, like in the picture above.
They came off of turn four, through the first dog leg, and Juan moved up the racetrack. Smith did the same.
Then Regan came off of the dog leg, and was up against the wall as Juan moved up. Montaya drove right into the bumper of Smith's car, ruining both of their nights.
That was a racing incident. I placed more of the blame on Montoya, but I was also giving him the benefit of the doubt.
I felt for sure, like I'm sure everyone else did, Juan was going to apologize for the incident.
Instead, he got interviewed, and struck a new low.
In his interview with SPEED he said, "It's just hard when you have guys that don't belong there running there.... He never gave me any room... I wanted to run the middle and he just turned down...That's what happens when you start by a lottery and not by performance, and he just doesn't have any."
Juan is referring to Regan Smith. Instead of apologizing for the incident, he throws Regan Smith under the bus.
Let me tell you Mr. Montoya, Regan Smith has every right to be running up there. You didn't give him any room, and you turned into him, watch the film again.
Regan's #78 team was really good, and was passing you on the outside. But, you couldn't have that now. Could you? You want him to give you, a guy with a road course win, and three years experience, room? When in the world have you even given anyone room? Never. Race others how you want to be raced, and treat others how you want to be treated.
Juan, next time, Regan Smith isn't going to give you room again, and you deserve to hit the wall with a move like that. Next time, take the high road and apologize and suck it up for once like every other driver has done for you.
And, I was really infuriated with SPEED when they didn't interview Regan Smith for his side of the story, and his defense. Now Regan seems like the bad guy if you weren't watching closely.
Juan, you've proven you can drive, but you'll never win any races treating your fellows drivers, teammates, fans, and people around you the way you do. They'll treat you the same way back.
When I'm up in Louden, New Hampshire, I won't feel sorry this time when I hear the boos for you!
Time to start taking the high road Juan. You're embarrassing yourself, your team, and most important of all, the sport!