Open-wheelers take to NASCAR

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti and Tony Stewart opened the door for open-wheel drivers to race stock cars.

Juan Pablo Montoya kicked it in.

Montoya had one of the best rookie seasons in recent NASCAR history in 2007. He won a race, ran strong in several others and finished 20th in the Cup standings. That's better than most expected since he was making the difficult transition from open-wheel racing to stock cars.

In short, he set a new benchmark for others to follow.

There are plenty of followers, too.

Fellow open-wheel stars Dario Franchitti, Sam Hornish Junior, Jacques Villeneuve and Patrick Carpentier are making the same jump to NASCAR's top series this season. And they are hoping for similar results.

Although the influx of open-wheel drivers was met with some skepticism others believe it will be good for the sport.

The additions could create more competition for open seats, expand fan base and maybe even boost television ratings.