Don’t count on Montoya, he’s only in Indianapolis to win
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Oh, it’s just Juan.
This is what is said of Juan Pablo Montoya when he does not want to do something, rejects a request or simply pretends not to hear what is asked of him.
He’s back at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for what may be his last time as a driver. He turns 47 in September and is focused on developing his son’s career.
So when Montoya only completed two laps in 41 mph winds on “Fast Friday”, and when he fell behind in practice sessions or had a disappointing qualifying run, some of his competitors wondered if the Colombian even wanted to be in the race.
All of a sudden, “it’s just Juan” started changing to “Juan is gone”.
Asked by the Associated Press about other competitors assuming Montoya isn’t putting in all of his efforts in Indianapolis, he silently stared out the window of the Chevrolet Camaro that kept him from appearing.
“It’s good for them,” he finally replied. And that was it.
Montoya is an enigma – always has been over a career spanning over three decades – in that he does what he wants when he wants. He is outspoken, stubborn and was once considered one of the best drivers in the world.
Like that time, he showed up at the Indy 500 as a rookie in 2000 and led all but 33 200 laps for the win. Or, a few weeks later in the CART race at Michigan, when Montoya rode wheel-to-wheel with Michael Andretti over nearly a dozen final laps to win what is considered one of the greatest duels in history. American open wheels.
Montoya moved up to Formula 1 the following season and in just his third race he won a chicken match with Michael Schumacher. Montoya refused to get up as he raced for the lead, a stubbornness that sent Schumacher off course.
Montoya took seven F1 victories, winning at Monza, Monaco and Silverstone, before growing tired of politics and calling Chip Ganassi to see if there were places for him in the United States. Ganassi said sure, come to NASCAR, and Montoya did that for seven seasons and two Cup Series victories.
Then it was a return to IndyCar and a return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time in 14 years. Montoya finished fifth in his second Indy 500.
Next year? Montoya won in 2015 for his second Indy 500 win in three career starts.
Montoya’s Indy 500 stat line is unreal: two wins in six starts and only one finish below ninth place; he did not finish in 2016 when he was involved in an accident.
So if Montoya doesn’t think he needs to turn lap after lap at Indy to prepare for race day, he’s going to tell Arrow McLaren SP the race isn’t until Sunday and he doesn’t risk his car. Montoya will drive for Arrow for the second straight year after finishing ninth last year. He is admittedly smarter, calmer, and more calculated than he was in his prime.
“I’m fine. I don’t have to pretend. The window where this car is running is very small, and it’s very hard to understand,” Montoya told AP. , I have the third car. If I destroy it before the race, the fourth car I know won’t be as good as the one I have now.
“Why take this risk? It’s just stupid.
He still behaves with the same confidence he had as a fearless 23-year-old in American open-wheel racing. The only time he softens is when he talks about his 17-year-old son, Sebastian, who will be racing in Monaco this weekend as Montoya makes what could be his last Indy 500 start.
When asked if he still had the same desire, Montoya replied, “Did you watch Mid-Ohio last week?”
Indeed, he traveled from the Indianapolis road race on Saturday night two weeks ago to Ohio the next day to host an IMSA sports car event. Montoya rallied at a penalty to claim the class victory.
Montoya starts 30th on Sunday, his lowest ever in the Indy 500. He will have to pass a lot of cars to win a third Borg-Warner Trophy, but he warns anyone counting him.
“I’ve never been a big fan of riding a really big wave and thinking, ‘I’m the best.’ No, I’m driving as hard as I can and doing my best,” Montoya said. “You have to remember that I’m 46 and I have riders who are around 22. The 22-year-olds have feel like you’re invincible and they don’t have the big picture.All in all, you need to be able to take care of your car for 500 miles to have a chance of winning.
Will he be back?
Montoya shrugs. He doesn’t see any scenario where he’s racing against his son in the Indy 500 — the two were sports car teammates at Sebring earlier this year — but he doesn’t know what’s next.
“I won’t come back and race Indy just to race Indy,” Montoya said. “It has to be with a team that wants to win. If McLaren wants me to do it again then I will do it again because I love this team and I won’t come here if I don’t think I can win the race.
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