Montoya, teammate Stremme fastest in morning

Updated: January 16, 2007, 6:10 PM ET
By Terry Blount | ESPN.com

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- It's difficult to make a test session exciting, but the newbie from Formula One managed to get everyone's attention Tuesday morning.

When the session ended, Juan Pablo Montoya was on top of the speed chart. He turned a lap at 184.574 mph in the No. 42 Dodge in only his second day of Nextel Cup track time on the 2.5-mile Daytona oval.

Montoya also learned that going fast at Daytona can come back and bite you. He brushed the wall early in the afternoon session in his backup car.

Ryan Newman, another Dodge driver in the No. 12 Charger, led the afternoon drafting practice session at 186.540 mph. Montoya was 15th in his backup car.

It surprises no one that Montoya can drive fast, but it's a big surprise that the Dodges for Chip Ganassi Racing were the two fastest cars in the morning session.

David Stremme, Montoya's teammate, was No. 2 in the morning outing with a lap at 184.479 mph, still more than 1 mph slower than Montoya's speed.

Montoya is amazed at how many people watch and care about what goes on in testing.

"When you test a Formula One car, everything is blocked off so no one can see the car when it stops," he said. "It's all private."

He also isn't used to driving a car out of a garage stall.

"That's one big change for me," he said. "Everything I've ever driven before has been on pit lane. I get in and drive it. This way is kind of weird. You have to be careful."

Montoya isn't bragging about his impressive testing speeds. He knows some of his F1 rivals consider oval-track racing a joke. Recently retired seven-time champion Michael Schumacher said he can't understand why Montoya would want to race ovals.

"I don't think those guys realize how difficult it is to race on some of these ovals," Montoya said at a Dodge dinner Monday night. "The small ovals are easy. If you make a mistake and hit something, you really aren't going that fast.

"But if Schumacher came here and you told him he had to be within half a second of the pace, I think he would have a heart attack."

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.

Terry Blount

ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter

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