They nearly came to blows when their careers crossed paths in formula one, but Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve could soon be friends.

In the drivers' briefing before the Canadian grand prix in 2001, the pair had to be physically separated after arguing about one another's driving style.

But now, with 1997 world champion Villeneuve starting a new career in NASCAR, Colombian Montoya - who switched to the popular American brand of racing last year - said he looks forward to catching up with his old foe in a new setting.

"I think it's nice to see Jacques, and hopefully he does well," Montoya said when he was asked about Villeneuve's Craftsman Truck Series test this week and likely Nextel Cup foray in 2008.

"If I can help in any way I will. He's a nice guy."

Villeneuve agrees that both he and Montoya have "mellowed down" since 2001, when the French-Canadian is thought to have grabbed Montoya by the neck following a comment about a crash earlier that season in which a marshal was killed.

"We had a hard time, I would say early in our careers," he said.

"There were just a few high-spirited moments in car on the track."

Montoya added that he thinks there might be a bond between the pair when they meet in the NASCAR paddocks.

"There will be something there," he said. "I don't know how big or how small, but we have a lot of things in common.

"Jacques is very cool, he's changed a lot since I first knew him. He's like a kid. He's always buying music. I look forward to him getting here." (GMM)