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Montoya ready for NASCAR Nextel Cup debut

November 18, 2006 10:56 IST

Former Formula One driver Juan Pablo Montoya took a major step in his transition to NASCAR racing when he qualified for the Ford 400 Nextel Cup race at Miami Homestead Speedway on Friday.

The Colombian, who previously drove for the Mercedes-McLaren Formula One team, qualified for his first Nextel Cup race 29th from the 43-car field in his Dodge Charger at average speed of 175.58 mph (282.57 kph) around the half-mile oval track.

Montoya, a seven-times Formula One Grand Prix winner, said the experience had been stressful.

"You don't want to come out of here and look like an idiot because you don't make the show," he said.

"It puts a lot of stress on the team because it's guaranteed that we have to get it right."

Car owner Chip Ganassi said he was content with Montoya's placing.

"As stressful as it was today, in a year or two, you'll look back on it as valuable," he said.

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