ST. PETERSBURG, Fla – Last year, Juan Pablo Montoya was disgusted in how the Verizon IndyCar Series season ended. He led the points standings the entire year, but Scott Dixon won the title by virtue of a tiebreaker.
Montoya vowed to not let that happen again.
The Colombian started off this year right, as he won the season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete for the second straight year en route to his 15th career IndyCar victory.
Montoya, took over the lead on the Lap 63 restart when he powered past Conor Daly in Turn 1 and he never looked back, en route to Penske’s first win since last year’s Indy 500 ending a 10 month long drought.
It was also Penske’s 179th career IndyCar victory as well.
Montoya’s Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud finished second on Sunday as it was a great start for the Frenchman after a somewhat disappointing debut season with Penske a year ago.
Pagenaud, led the first 25 laps as he ran a stellar race all day. He earned his 13th career podium and 30th top five finish with his runner-up effort today showing this could be his best season yet.
With three laps-to-go, Ryan Hunter-Reay got by Helio Castroneves for third place to break up what could have been an all Team Penske podium as Hunter-Reay would hold him off for his fifth straight top 10 finish dating back to last year.
Castroneves would give Penske three cars in the top four with a fourth place finish while Mikhail Aleshin had a great day in finishing fifth.
The race was run without our pole sitter as Will Power was deemed to have a “mild concussion” after a practice crash on Friday afternoon. He was held out of the morning warmup this morning as Oriol Servia was named as his replacement for the race.
Servia would finish 18th.
The Spaniard was caught up in the Lap 56 melee after Carlos Munoz spun Graham Rahal in Turn 4. That stacked up the field behind as nine cars including Servia were involved in the accident.
The only other caution today came on Lap 46 when Marco Andretti and Luca Filippi made contact with each other in Turn 1. Andretti would spin causing the first caution of the race.
The series now has the next two weeks off before heading to Phoenix for the second race of the 2016 season on April 2.
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete Results:
- 2 Montoya
- 22 Pagenaud
- 28 Hunter-Reay
- 3 Castroneves
- 7 Aleshin
- 14 Sato
- 9 Dixon
- 26 Munoz
- 10 Kanaan
- 83 Kimball OUT
- 41 Hawksworth -1
- 98 Rossi R -1
- 18 Daly R -1
- 16 Pigot R -1
- 27 Andretti -1
- 15 Rahal -1
- 8 Chilton R -1
- 12 Servia -1
- 5 Hinchcliffe -1
- 19 Filippi -2
- 11 Bourdais OUT
- 21 Newgarden OUT