Report: Juan Pablo Montoya will not join Andretti Autosport

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Juan Pablo Montoya’s plans for 2014 have yet to be determined, but they won’t include an IZOD IndyCar Series drive with Andretti Autosport.

Montoya, who has been a free agent since being told by Earnhardt Ganassi Racing that he would not return to their Sprint Cup team next season, had been linked to a possible return to open-wheel racing with Michael Andretti’s team. However, per Marshall Pruett of RACER Magazine, the 1999 CART champion and 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner has informed AA that he will not be joining them.

With Ryan Newman set to jump to Richard Childress Racing next season, the No. 78 Chevrolet of Furniture Row Racing remains in play this “Silly Season,” as Kurt Busch, its current driver, will be off to Stewart-Haas Racing at that time.

FRR and Montoya have held discussions about joining forces, and last weekend at Richmond International Raceway, FRR general manager Joe Garone seemed to indicate that a decision from their camp was near.

“It’s just a process,” he explained at the time to Bob Pockrass of the Sporting News. “Part of it is you just identify where you want to go – do you want to stay with a veteran or do you want to go with a younger rookie and bring a kid up?

“We’re just trying to get through that decision. You’ve got to take Juan seriously. He’s been around a while and obviously can win races.”

Montoya has turned up the wick performance-wise since he learned of EGR’s decision to cut him loose at season’s end. He’s netted a pair of Top-10s in the last three races and will start on the inside of Row 2 for Sunday’s Chase-opening GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Kyle Larson will be replacing Montoya in Earnhardt Ganassi’s No. 42 machine next season.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”