Montoya Wins Rookie Of The Year

Juan Pablo Montoya, with the support of his Texaco/Havoline team, won the 2007 Raybestos Rookie of the Year title after collecting one win, three top-five and six top-10 finishes in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Montoya became the fourth driver for his primary sponsor Texaco/Havoline to earn the prestigious honor, and second for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.

“This season has been a great season for me and the Texaco/Havoline team,” said Montoya. “Earning the Raybestos Rookie of the Year title is an honor and it means a lot to me, my team and our sponsors. This title and our victory at Infineon are things to cheer about within the team and the organization. I think more importantly is how the performance of my team and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates elevated through the entire year. It gave me the opportunity to win this award.”

Texaco/Havoline, which just celebrated its 21st year in the sport as a primary sponsor, has adorned the firesuits of four rookie winners. Montoya joins Davey Allison (1987), Kenny Irwin, Jr. (1998) and Jamie McMurray (2003), who have carried the star to a rookie title. Montoya’s Crew Chief Donnie Wingo and his team have led their second rookie to the title in four years. Wingo, along with a majority of the Texaco/Havoline crew, worked with McMurray during his impressive rookie run in 2003. It is CGRFS’ second title in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

This is Montoya’s second rookie title for Team Owner Chip Ganassi – he captured the 1999 CART rookie title for Ganassi’s open-wheel team. That very season, at the age of 24, Montoya proceeded to set several CART Series records en route to claiming his first and Ganassi’s fourth-consecutive CART Championship. Montoya claimed a record breaking seven wins in his rookie season, including the most consecutive wins by a rookie (three) and the most laps led by a rookie (954).

“I think winning the Raybestos Rookie of the Year was a really nice ending to Juan’s season,” said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. “What he was able to accomplish this season in just his first in a stockcar was nothing short of phenomenal and the great thing is that he is only going to get better. Now I just can’t wait for 2008 to begin.”

Montoya will participate in several media events over the next two weeks to honor his rookie title. He will attend the Raybestos Rookie luncheon tomorrow at the Speedway Club at Lowe’s Motor Speedway from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and officially pull the yellow stripe from the bumper of his No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge. Montoya will then travel to New York when the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series invades the city next week. He will dine at the 21 Club from 1 to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 28, with Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson, and receive his official award at the NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) Myers Bros. lunch at Cipriani’s on Thursday, Nov. 29, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Montoya joins an impressive list of drivers who have captured the Rookie of the Year title, and many who have gone on to win the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title. In addition to the drivers from Texaco/Havoline’s history, Montoya joins Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth who were all past ROY winners. Montoya also becomes just the second driver in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup history born outside the United States to win rookie of the year. Canadian Earl Ross won the title in 1974.

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