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Kyle Busch to Formula One? Montoya warns it won't be easy on the track, Speed warns the cultural shock may be big too


Juan Pablo Montoya: Been-there, Done-that, and amused, perhaps, at Kyle Busch's F1 dreams (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

    So Kyle Busch thinks he'd like to try Formula One.
   Well, Scott Speed and Juan Pablo Montoya, who have both raced F1 and are now on the NASCAR tour, say he'll have his work cut out.
    "Our culture, in general, in America is super-easy, especially in NASCAR," Speed says. "Everyone is very good socially; they get along pretty easily with everyone. It's very easy to make friends, and everyone is very helpful. 
   "It's black-and-white different compared to Europe. 
    "In Europe when you don't speak the home language it's difficult in general. 
    "And there are a lot of personality differences within that country.  It's just not the same as going back to your home country, where it's easy to socialize."
   Speed knows well the disparities; he grew up in heartland California, not far from where Ernie Irvan started making his mark in racing.
   And then there are the differences between the two race cars, the awkward, ill-handling stock cars and the lightweight, lithe F1 machines.
   And Busch hasn't done much open-wheel racing.
   "It's probably easier to go that route than it for those guys to come this route, because these cars have less downforce, less grip, more weight,  less technical advancements," Busch says.
   "For me it seems it would be a lot easier to drive a car that is fully-equipped.  It's kind of like getting into a Volkswagen Beatle versus a Ferrari. 
   "The Ferrari has everything you need to go fast, and you know it's going to stick well because it's very well-designed…but a Volkswagen Beatle is kind of like a slug."
   Montoya says he has "no idea" how well Busch might do in Formula One: "He grew driving these things, and open-wheel is very different.
   "He would have a very hard transition.
   "He runs very well on the ovals. He does a very good job on the road courses. Last year he won both.
   "But it is a different car, it is a different animal.
   "It would be interesting to see.
   "But, first of all, is it really going to happen?"
    Of course Montoya himself has become little more than an afterthought on the NASCAR trail, after such a hot start two years ago. Where his stock car career is going isn't clear. He's moved from the Dodge camp to the Chevy camp this season, but sometimes he just seems to be spinning his wheels, or just seems to be bored by it all, and it's hard to judge how much fire there is in the belly.
    "It is all about 26 races, and we will see what happens," Montoya says.
   "In a way, it has been weird year, because in Daytona we actually had a really fast car, we just ran out of time. We had a couple of bad spots, run in the back; then got tires, picked up a ton of places, but it was pretty late. (He finished 14th.)
   "California was an okay race. (He finished 11th , his best finish since a fourth at Watkins Glen last summer, and his best oval finish since that second at Talladega last spring.) We normally struggle at California, and we ran pretty decent -- between eighth and 14th most of the day. It was okay.
   "And here we seem okay again.
    "We are close, we are very close. But we aren't there yet.
   "In a way it is very exciting. Being with Target again (as sponsor), for me has been a big deal. And now running for Chevy has been really good  -- our performance has improved. So I am very happy.
    "I feel we have the potential to start getting in there and having several wins and running better."
   Still, Montoya's operation is an underdog against the sport's Big Four, which means he's got about 16 teams to beat.
  "One team (Rick Hendrick's) has four cars, plus two -- you look at Tony Stewart as being pretty much a full Hendrick deal," Montoya says. "So that makes six cars.
   "You look at the other side, Jack Roush has five cars plus another two, the Doug Yates deal."
   And then there are Joe Gibbs guys and Richard Childress men.
   "If all those cars finish ahead of you, you are already 16th," Montoya says. "If you just put the Hendrick and the Roush cars in there, and you finish right behind them, you are 10th.
   "So it makes it hard.
   "But I think we are doing the job we have to. The performance is getting better; we are decent everywhere.
    "We can run top-10 now every week.
    "It feels like we are right there.
    "We just need a little bit more speed, not much.
    "So it's like you can run with them -- but then you have to have better pit stops. Last week our pit stops hurt us a little, but we are working really hard to make that better."


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