Andretti Autosport has 50 percent of funding needed to run Juan Pablo Montoya next season

Streeter Lecka

The defending IndyCar Series championship winning team wants to field a car for NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya next season and currently has half the sponsorship commitments to do it.

Andretti Autosport officials say that have about 50 percent of the funding needed to run Juan Pablo Montoya in the IndyCar Series next season, according to Marshall Pruett at racer.com.

"We're at about 50 percent of what's needed to run Juan," said John Lopes, the team's senior VP and chief marketing officer. "There has been a lot of interest in him, and with his success in Indy car racing - winning the 2000 Indy 500, his wins in F1, and everything he's done in NASCAR, companies sit up and take notice if you have a chance to work with him."

The report stated that annual budgets for a championship-caliber team like Andretti Autosport can run up to $7 million dollars, which is complicated given the lack of money pouring into IndyCar racing right now.  The team is looking to secure one final sponsor in order to finalize a deal with the 1999 CART Champion and 2000 Indianapolis 500-mile race winner.

"There are two particular sponsors that are definitely interested because of Juan, and if either were to happen, it would only be because of Juan," Michael Andretti told RACER. "I would say there's a couple of scenarios that if a deal happens, it would be because of him. I wouldn't see them doing anything with anyone else but Juan."

Andretti Autosport already has deals in place for Marco Andretti and defending Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay for next season but have also been looking to retain the services of James Hinchcliffe and E.J Viso. With Montoya and Indy Lights driver Carlos Munoz also negotiating with the team, Andretti appears to have a lot of options for next season.

Munoz grew up idolizing his fellow Colombian, Montoya but Andretti says signing the veteran would not be purely out of the need to help spurt Munoz's growth.

"If we can get that to happen it would be great but, obviously, we're not going after Juan to try to help Munoz; those are separate deals," Michael Andretti added. "If we were able to get Juan, I hope it would help Munoz for sure but I'd love to have Juan drive for our team because I think he's an exceptional talent, especially in open-wheel cars. So that's what we're trying to work for. We're not giving up on Juan; we still want to make it happen. I know he wants to be here in the worst way and we would love to have him here, so we're trying to make it work out."

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