INDIANAPOLIS – For the first time of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, Juan Pablo Montoya will be back in a race, as Montoya will pilot the No. 22 Chevrolet, a fifth Team Penske entry, in this weekend’s IndyCar Grand Prix (3:30 p.m. ET/ABC/INDYCAR Radio Network) at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. If you noticed in that first sentence, I put “race” not “race car.”
This won’t be the first time Montoya has been behind the wheel of an IndyCar in 2017, as the Colombian tested this very same car at the Barber Motorsports Park back on March 21 and at Gateway on May 3. Then, despite those tests being his first time in a car since September, Montoya was still in the top 10 in each of those two sessions.
That’s why I don’t think it will take much time for Montoya to get up to speed this week. In fact, I wouldn’t count him out as a contender either.
Montoya, was seventh and third respectively in practice then backed that up with qualifying fifth.
Also, in three career IndyCar Grand Prix starts, Montoya has two top 10 finishes. He came home eighth a year ago and third in 2015. He was running good in 2014 too, but was caught up in a crash on a mid-race restart.
“I’m so excited to get back on track with the Verizon IndyCar Series,” Montoya said. “I’ve run a few tests but will run my first race since last season at the INDYCAR Grand Prix. Indianapolis is one of those special places in motorsports. The buzz surrounding the whole city for the month can be felt. I guess I should feel a little behind, but I don’t. The guys on the Fitzgerald Glider Kits team have been in tune and mixed in with the other teams all season, so we have all the data and those tests went really well. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
Penske, has had pace this year and it’s not like he’s coming back blind. This car will be capable of winning. Penske doesn’t put cars in the field if they’re not.
Montoya, 41, hasn’t won an IndyCar race since the season opener at St. Pete last year. He only had two top fives over the final 12 races of last season, both were third place runs. But, one of those was a podium in the season finale at Sonoma.
To me, Montoya still has it, and now all he has to worry about is winning. That’s a dangerous combination for a world class driver. He can easily win on Saturday afternoon.