When Montoya was told that his contract would not be renewed to continue driving in NASCAR for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, the first IndyCar Series owner to speculate about signing Montoya was Andretti.
He was quite vocal about having the former F1, CART and Indy 500 winner drive for his team and this was somewhat surprising, considering that Canadian James Hinchcliffe, who has won three races for Andretti this season, and E.J. Viso are unsigned for 2014 and potential IndyCar star Carlos Munoz was also on the horizon.
As recently as last week, Andretti put out an announcement that his company had raised half of the budget necessary to run the NASCAR star and reportedly made an offer to him, which apparently was rejected.
It turns out that Montoya had contacted Penske directly to ask for a seat and was intent throughout the process of driving for the Captain and only for the Captain.
In an interview with Marshall Pruett of Racer magazine, Penske said the opportunity to sign Montoya was too good to turn down.
"I've known Montoya for a long time and had watched him in NASCAR recently," Penske told Pruett. "I guess he and Chip [Ganassi] had decided to go their separate ways, and [Montoya] contacted us saying he'd be interested in driving a third car for us. We weren't even sure if we'd be able to do it when he called, and he had another opportunity with Michael Andretti, and also with the Furniture Row guys in Sprint Cup.
"I told him at the time we weren't sure if we could do it, and told him if he had an offer that was stone-cold good, to take it. But he talked more with (Penske Racing president) Tim Cindric and he said he really wanted to race with us. I spoke with Tim while I've been overseas here, and told him I think he'd be a fantastic addition to the team and we got the deal done."
The interesting thing, as it turns out, is that Penske at the moment doesn’t have sponsorship in place to run Montoya, but is confident of getting it. And that is what puts Penske a cut above most of the rest of the "owners" who compete in IndyCar.
Most of those "owners" don’t have commercial divisions charged with finding sponsorship in order to run drivers with talent. They wait for the driver, or drivers, to show up with the money and talent is not necessarily a prerequisite.
And that, in a nutshell, sums up so much of what is wrong with IndyCar (and Formula One, too, but that’s another column).
If I was the CEO of IndyCar, and looking to relaunch the series, which is something that is badly needed, a requirement of ownership would be the ability to raise the necessary funds to participate. There would be no ride-buying allowed.
Hey, I can dream, can’t I?