Andretti Autosport talking to Juan Pablo Montoya about IndyCar return

Tom Pennington

Andretti Autosport has opened talks with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Juan Pablo Montoya about rejoining the IndyCar Series next season.

Juan Pablo Montoya could return to the IndyCar Series with Andretti Autosport next season if team owner Michael Andretti gets his way and finds sufficient funding.

"I have talked to Juan about IndyCar and told him 'Hell yeah, let's find a way to put something together,'" Andretti told The Associated Press on Monday. "I've driven against him and I think he's one of the best drivers I've ever driven against. It just comes down to sponsorship. So we're looking, and if it's a possibility, we want to do something with him."

Andretti first had conversations with Montoya about the IndyCar Series late last week when it was announced that he and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing would not team up together next season to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Montoya has driven for the team since 2007 and picked up two Sprint Cup wins during that span.

Montoya is said to be looking at every possible option for next season but wouldn't say to which teams he has spoken.

Montoya has 11 wins in an Indy car, including the 1999 CART Championship and 2000 Indianapolis 500 -- his only start in the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing." Andretti told the AP that Montoya could provide a "huge lift" for the struggling tour.

"I think he could bring what he brought the last time -- it seemed like when he raced, half the stands were full of flags supporting him," Andretti said. "When he first got to NASCAR, he had a huge effect there. He brings a huge crowd, a huge support. He's a big personality, and he could be a good personality for IndyCar because he definitely has that 'don't give a (crap) attitude.'"

Andretti currently has four full-time teams, headlined by defending Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay. The team also appears set for next season with Marco Andretti and EJ Viso, although the latter has not finalized an agreement for 2014.

The biggest wild card in this scenario appears to be James Hinchcliffe, a three-time winner this season who is also in the final year of his two-year deal.

Andretti wants Hinchcliffe back, but their commitment is contingent on a decision from sponsor Go Daddy. Andretti tells the AP that Hinchcliffe's deal is not tied to any possible negotiations with Montoya.

"There's still a possibility of running five cars," Andretti said. "I think we can do it no problem, so long as we have a properly funded deal."

Andretti is also trying to put together a deal for Indy Lights driver Carlos Munoz who thrilled IndyCar in a one-off drive at the Indianapolis 500. He finished second in that race and has told SB Nation in the past that he grew up idolizing Montoya.

"We have a lot of irons in the fire," Andretti said. "If a sponsor falls out of the sky for Juan, then we don't know what we'd do to make it all work."

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