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Indy 500 winner says NASCAR can wait
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Juan Montoya, winner of the Indianapolis 500, smiled at the suggestion he now might want to try NASCAR.

"Maybe when I'm older," he said Tuesday.

The stock cars are too big, too slow and not powerful enough, said the 24-year-old Colombian who climbed auto racing's summit by winning the sport's most famous race in his first try.

Juan Montoya
Juan Montoya's first pitch in Yankee Stadium a little high and inside Tuesday night.

"My No. 1 focus right now is on CART, but in the future I want to race Formula One," Montoya said.

He didn't say when he would try to join the worldwide Formula One circuit. But when he does there is every reason to think he will do well from the start.

Montoya was rookie of the year on the European Formula 3000 series in 1997 after winning three times and finishing second in the championship. He won the title the following year.

Last year, he was CART's champion and rookie of the year after winning seven poles and seven races.

He's not doing quiet as well in 2000, but he made his season with the Indianapolis victory. Montoya is the first Indy rookie to do that since Graham Hill in 1966.

He was asked if he was awed by Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"It's the best I've ever raced on," he said. "But at the end of the day, it's still a race track."

He acknowledged, though, that he was awed by the crowd of 350,000-400,000.

"I never saw so many people in one place," he said.

Al Unser Jr. contended that Montoya was too much of a daredevil and took unnecessary chances.

"You have to take chances to win a race," Montoya said. "We took chances last Sunday. ... If you make a mistake, you have to pay for it."

The Indy 500 winner traditionally comes to New York two days after the race. There is no auto track in the city, but there are network TV stations. He also went to Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange.

"A lot of computers," he said.

He watched the trading of stocks in Target department store, one of his sponsors. The stock went down when he was there.

But the best of his day was saved for last -- a trip to Yankee Stadium to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Tuesday night's game with Oakland Athletics.

"To see all those players, to see that stadium," he said.

He played some baseball in school in Bogota, but not soccer, his country's national sport.

"I wasn't much for soccer," he said. "When I was a kid, I always knew what I wanted to be doing."

His architect father, Pablo, used to race go-carts, not the kind found at amusement parks. His uncle Diego also did some racing.

Now Montoya has done the family proud, although winning at Indianapolis put a crimp in his plans.

"I wanted to back to Colombia this week," Montoya said. "And here I am."
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