Juan Pablo Montoya re-emerges as strong IndyCar title contender

first_imgJuan Pablo Montoya finished 10th in the second dual at Belle Isle. (Andrew Weber, USA TODAY Sports)Juan Pablo Montoya finished 10th in the second dual at Belle Isle. (Andrew Weber, USA TODAY Sports)DETROIT — The magic of Juan Pablo Montoya was evident just over a week ago at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he blazed to an Indy 500 victory.His hypnotic racing skills were on show again as he left the pits sideways on Lap 38 at Belle Isle on Sunday, in Race 2 of the “Chevy Dual in Detroit.”On a slick pit lane as slippery as an icy I-75, the Team Penske ace grabbed a handful of steering wheel, gave it a flick left and right, avoiding the inside pit wall and a potentially race-ending moment.At 39, Montoya is fired up and definitely back as a major threat in the Verizon IndyCar Series.OK, he ran out of fuel at Belle Isle in the late restart and finished 10th, but watch for him to roar back later this week at Texas Motor Speedway.DUAL 2: Sebastien Bourdais holds on for first win of seasonHe has turned back the clock 15 years almost overnight, to a time when he left CART and North America as champ to go race in Formula One.Now back in open-wheel here, and with the Captain, Montoya is putting the memories of his tumultuous F1 days and often-disappointing NASCAR stint behind him.Regardless of his seven wins in F1 and two in Sprint Cup on road courses, Montoya belongs in the Verizon IndyCar Series.On Sunday, he showed fire, fight, finesse and fearlessness on the island and renewed passion for the sport.DUAL 1: Carlos Munoz notches first career IndyCar winMontoya has taken to Penske like a duck to water. He is leading the IndyCar championship ahead of teammate Will Power and Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, two of the world’s finest open-wheel drivers, regardless of all those competing in F1.“We had a really good Verizon Chevy today,” Montoya said after Sunday’s race. ‘It was really good in the rain as we jumped out to a big lead. It looked to be a nice day for the team.“I don’t really agree with what happened on the next-to-last restart, but that’s a conversation I will have. We gained points on Will (Power) with a 10th-place finish, so it’s not a terrible day.”At Indy, Montoya was flawless over the closing laps, making daring passes on the outside and scoring his second victory in the 500, his first coming in 2000.Q&A: Montoya on life after winning the Indianapolis 500On Sunday, he certainly had the car to beat until fuel became an issue.Montoya is on a charge this season. All others should watch their mirrors.The Colombian may have struck out in his NASCAR life, but, really, he wasn’t meant to drive stock cars. He’s as pure an open-wheel driver as there has ever been — and he’s enjoying a second summer in his IndyCar career.Mike Brudenell writes for the Detroit Free Press, a Gannett affiliate.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *