Mark Martin says Formula 1 drivers switching to NASCAR in the future may end up struggling to follow in the footsteps of grand prix winner Juan Pablo Montoya.
The veteran American, who currently leads the Sprint Cup Series standings, believes news of F1 drivers testing NASCAR machinery may be more of an experiment rather than a serious attempt to switch to stock car racing.
Toyota’s Jarno Trulli is set to test a Sprint Cup car for Michael Waltrip Racing in November alongside former Toyota driver turned sportscar racer Mika Salo, while former Renault F1 driver Nelson Piquet Jr will drive a NASCAR truck for Red Horse Racing on Monday at Rockingham.
Both Trulli and Piquet have insisted they are focused on futures in F1 and are only testing the cars to satisfy curiosity, but Salo is openly chasing a NASCAR career.
Martin believes Montoya’s success would be hard to emulate for anyone trying to make a similar transition from F1.
«My guess is [the tests are] more for fun and to see what kind of interest could be stirred up,» said Martin.
«It is quite a commitment to do what Juan Pablo has done. Not just everybody is going to be able to put that whole programme together and battle through what it takes to get where Juan is now.
«Two and three quarter years to get Juan where he is and I think he is probably one of the best drivers that this sport has ever seen. There is just a lot of difference in the kind of racing he did and the racing he is doing now. It takes a while.»
Martin says he still feels humbled by Montoya, who has approached him several times for advice, and continues to do so, despite both of them being rivals in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
«It is humbling to me that he asks me a lot of questions,» said Martin. «That is pretty incredible to see somebody of his talent do that. We talk, he asks a few questions and we talk back and forth a lot. I admire and appreciate him.»
Montoya welcomed the news of his former colleagues sampling NASCAR and wished them well, although he reiterated that success will not happen overnight if they decide to make the transition.
«It’s good to know that they’re following what we do over here,» said Montoya.
«Hopefully they can succeed if any of them chooses to come. They needed to get a good team but at the same time, the team has to believe in the driver and be patient, because making the transition is not easy.
«I was fortunate to have Chip Ganassi and the team supporting me.»
By Diego Mejia