JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, 2015 INDY 500 WINNER
Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves,
but there wasn’t a hint of panic from the
Colombian, according to Penske Racing
president Tim Cindric.
“Juan was disappointed obviously,” he
says, “but he knew it wasn’t down to him.
We missed the balance and the gearing on
that car, but he’s been around long enough
to know that it’s a 500-mile race, and he
From the purely objective spectator
viewpoint, that guaranteed us a battle to
relish on May 24, 2015. And, as expected,
Montoya executed in style. He fought like a
warrior, but kept his head like a general.
He needed to. Juan recalls: “I thought
my day was over when I saw in my mirror
the part hanging off my car after Simona
hit me. I said, ‘That’s it, we’re going to go
a lap down. All over.’ So I was grateful that
she hit me hard enough to cause debris
on the track which delayed the restart.
The team was able to change the whole
rear assembly and it was fine.”
Fine, yes, but still needing work.
“Yeah, we made a lot of changes at
every pit stop,” he says. “I think the last
stop was the only one for just tires and
fuel. It’s all based on feel, not experience
of this track. I’ve only done this race three
times, remember. But the track was so
hot, I just felt we needed more downforce.”
Feel. It’s the crucial word here, and is a
big reason why Montoya has long been
one of racing’s elite. It’s partly why he
started shining in the Verizon IndyCar
Series so soon after his return to this
form of racing. It’s why the sight of him at
“I’d attribute a lot of our
consistency on ovals to
Juan. He showed us all
what was possible”
(ABOVE LEFT) Even
on the penultimate
restart, it was very
obvious who the final
shootout would be
JPM and Dixon leave
the rest behind as
Stefano Coletti, Jack
crash out behind.
ever. But he’s got other high cards to play
beyond pace and feel and determination.
Like sheer hard work.
“Juan puts on this act of not caring,
but he does his homework,” says Power.
“He knows everything about the car
before he reaches the track, and knows
And what Montoya wants is helpful in
pushing Team Penske forward, as team
members have acknowledged.
“Even last season, I’d attribute a lot of
our performance consistency on ovals to
Juan,” says Cindric. “He showed us all
what was possible on ovals, how to drive
through certain characteristics of the car.
It gave our other guys confidence that
they could do it too. Juan’s worst actual
finish on an oval [he crashed out at Iowa]
was fifth. That tells you a lot about his
abilities, because ovals had been our
Montoya’s race engineer Brian Campe
who, like Montoya, arrived at Team
Penske from NASCAR in the fall of 2013,
agrees. He adds: “Right away, I was
impressed by Juan’s prowess on an oval
in an open-wheel car. Watching him from
afar, shining on the few road courses in
NASCAR and recalling how good he was
in Formula 1, I’d kind of forgotten how