Montoya Returns To Victory Lane
Juan Pablo Montoya won his first IndyCar Series race since 2000 on Sunday when he got the victory at Pocono Raceway.
Pole-sitter Montoya, brought back to IndyCar by team owner Roger Penske after a nine-year break to drive in NASCAR, edge teammate Helio Castroneves to the finish line.
“It’s huge,” Montoya said. “I was overly excited coming to the line, I can tell you that.”
The native of Colombia won the 2000 Indianapolis 500 and 10 races in the Champ Car/CART series in 1999 and 2000. He then moved on to Formula One – where he won seven races – before moving to stock cars in 2006.
Montoya seemed both happy and relieved to get a victory in his open-wheel comeback.
“It’s been a long road,” he said. “It’s a lot harder than people realize because as I said the other day, driving open wheels is so different than what I’ve been driving the last few years, and it’s just ‑‑ it was going to take time. I don’t like jinxing it and saying, oh, it’s coming, it’s coming. I’d rather be let’s just keep working on it. I feel at this point we’ve got to step it up and work a little bit harder because I think we’re in a position now to win the championship. So we’ve really got to step it up.
“You know, we’ve been having really good finishes and everything, but if we want to win the championship, we’ve got to make sure we perform a little better on the street courses and stuff like that. We haven’t run on short ovals so I have no idea what to expect. Hopefully it’s as good as this.”
Throughout the 200-lap event, Montoya never fell below the fourth position in the running order.
With 34 laps remaining in the 500-mile race, Montoya narrowly escaped a bigger incident as his car made light contact with Will Power’s machine while making a pass for the lead. The resulting damage to the front wing caused a bit of an understeer condition on the PPG Chevy for the remainder of the race.
Montoya made his final pit stop of the day at lap 187, setting the team up for a strong run to the finish. After returning to the track in the third position, Montoya reclaimed the lead again on lap 197 after the competitors in front of him on a different fuel strategy had to pit. Montoya led the final four laps for his first Verizon IndyCar Series victory since winning at Gateway International Raceway in 2000.
He became the eighth different race winner through 11 rounds of the Verizon IndyCar Series season. He’s the first to win from the pole this season.
“That’s great for Juan; what a great race he ran,” team owner Penske said.
Montoya, driving the No. 2 PPG Team Penske car, led Castroneves across the finish line of the 2.5-mile tri-oval by .3403 seconds.
“I want to thank Roger for believing in me after so many years out of an Indy car,” said Montoya, who claimed his third Indy car 500-mile race victory.
Rookie Carlos Munoz finished third and Ryan Briscoe finished a season-high fourth. Scott Dixon, the winner last year at Pocono Raceway, finished fifth.
Castroneves’ finish moved him to a tie with teammate Will Power in the point standings.
“We made some changes and copied my teammate’s setup,” Castroneves, who had his path to victory blocked at one point by Power, said. “Congratulations to Montoya. Are you kidding? This guy is unbelievable. Coming back after 15 years and winning a race. He did a great job. As soon as he signed, I knew he would be an asset and a headache for us. I’m glad. It’s good with a 1-2 finish and I can’t believe we are now tied in the championship. It’s really unbelievable.
“What else can I say? It’s great news (to be tied for the championship). It was a tough race. You have to be really patient, and that’s what we did.”
Power was penalized for is blatant block on Castroneves. It was not the first penalty he has been issued by officials this season.
“I actually let him go and went wide on the brakes and touched the brakes,” Power, looking a bit stunned after the race, said. “I move, I move, I move… I was heading that way, heading over, over and over. I mean, he is my teammate. So it was another penalty and other drive-through and another really good opportunity lost. I’m sure all the commentators up there gave me a pretty good rub. The drive-through at the end of the race… painful. It was a double-move. But time after time it happens to me and no penalty. Anyway, it wasn’t a good day. The drive-through penalty… I’ve got to stop it. I’ve gotta stop getting drive-throughs.”
Results Sunday of the Pocono INDYCAR 500 fueled by Sunoco Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (1) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 200, Running
2. (7) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 200, Running
3. (3) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
4. (10) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 200, Running
5. (15) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 200, Running
6. (11) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
7. (12) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
8. (21) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
9. (5) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
10. (2) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 200, Running
11. (8) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 200, Running
12. (6) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
13. (13) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 199, Running
14. (16) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
15. (19) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 199, Running
16. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 199, Running
17. (17) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 198, Running
18. (9) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 181, Running
19. (14) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 157, Contact
20. (20) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 89, Electrical
21. (4) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 25, Electrical
22. (22) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 0, Did Not Start
Winners average speed: 202.402
Time of Race: 02:28:13.1798
Margin of victory: 2.3403
Cautions: 1 for 6 laps
Lead changes: 16 among 5 drivers
Power 1 – 30
Montoya 31 – 32
Power 33 – 49
Kanaan 50 -58
Power 59 – 61
Montoya 62 – 64
Kanaan 65 – 87
Montoya 88 -94
Kanaan 95 – 117
Montoya 118 – 125
Kanaan 127 – 147
Power 148 – 166
Montoya 167 – 187
Newgarden 188 – 194
Kanaan 195 – 196
Montoya 197 – 200
Point Standings: Power 446, Castroneves 446, Pagenaud 402, Montoya 391, Hunter-Reay 388, Munoz 340, Andretti 325, Dixon 297, Briscoe 285, Bourdais 271.No Comment