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Juan Pablo Montoya takes on mentoring role with Danica Patrick

By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

LAS VEGAS - Juan Pablo Montoya is paying it backward. During the first two race weekends of the season, Montoya has reached out to NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Danica Patrick, offering advice from the perspective of a driver who has made a successful transition from open-wheel racing to stock cars.

Montoya's motivation to help Patrick is driven from the reception he got when he began racing full-time in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series in 2007.

"People were very open to me when I got here," Montoya said Friday morning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "They were coming to me every week, helping me, giving me tips. It's really hard at the beginning, as an open-wheel guy, to have, basically, the (courage) to go to somebody and say 'Can you help me.'

"I know how hard that is, so that's why I've been trying to help her, and I know what she's going through. I just talk to her about the tracks - you've got to be careful of this, you've got to be careful of that, you want to do this, you want to do that."

A portion of Montoya's advice involves understanding what realistic expectations should be.

"You shouldn't expect great things right at the beginning," he said. "In open wheel, if you run bad, you run 10th. Here, if you run bad, you run 30th, and to put that in your mind is really, really hard."