After finishing third in Sunday's Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, ex-F1 star Juan-Pablo Montoya attempted to make light of a comment made by subsequently-suspended ESPN football analyst Bob Griese during Saturday's Ohio State-Minnesota game.
During a promo for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup that highlighted the top five drivers, former Miami Dolphins quarterback Griese answered broadcast partner Chris Spielman's query of 'Where's Juan-Pablo Montoya?' with an ill-conceived attempt at humour in joking: “He's out having a taco!”
After the race, Colombia native and Miami resident Montoya dismissed the remark with humour of his own.
“I don't really care, to tell you the truth,” the seven-time grand prix-winner insisted, claiming that he had never even heard of Griese. “Yeah, I don't. I could say I spent the last three hours eating tacos, but I was actually driving a car – but that's okay, I don't care.”
Griese has since twice apologised for the 'inappropriate' remark on-air, but has been temporarily suspended by ESPN for a week for his indiscretion.
Cuban-born Felix Sabates, who owns an interest in the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team for which Montoya drives, also dismissed the severity of Griese's quip. Sabates, who lived in Miami before moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, considers Griese a friend.
“I think he was just joking,” he reasoned. “I didn't take it too seriously. He needs to get his geography corrected, because they don't have tacos in Colombia. Other than that, I don't see anything wrong with it. He was just trying to be funny.
“I know Bob – well, well, well, well. Bob would never say anything like that; that is a racial slur. That's just not him. Bob is not the funniest guy in the world, but he's straightforward. I think he probably tried to put some humour into it, and it backfired on him. No big deal. No harm. No foul.”
Meanwhile, Kyle Busch may not have found the key to Martinsville Speedway to the same extent that his race-winning Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Denny Hamlin clearly did, but the Nevada-born ace nonetheless professed himself thoroughly satisfied with having turned a 41st-place starting spot into a fourth-place finish on Sunday.
“I'm real proud of the effort,” underlined the 24-year-old, who in so doing posted his best result since triumphing at Bristol back in August. “The guys did awesome pit-stops and we made a lot of changes; at every stop, we made a change on the car trying to make it better.
“Tyres were the name of the game. We just seemed to be on the right strategy when we could come in and get tyres and drive back through some guys. We had a good enough car to do that. I'm glad we came down there (on lap 485) and put right-sides on it, because that probably gained us about eight spots.”
by Reid Spencer / Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service