Remember when Montoya made magical memories in CART with Ganassi? (VIDEO)

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Juan Pablo Montoya’s initial two-year foray into North American open-wheel racing was a stunning arrival.

The Colombian, loaned out to Target Chip Ganassi Racing from Frank Williams after winning the 1998 Formula 3000 championship, starred from the get-go. His rookie season in CART, he won seven races and the championship.

In 2000, with a completely different Lola-Toyota package after the team switched from the all-conquering Reynard-Honda, Montoya still was frequently the out-and-out fastest driver but often a victim of poor luck and unreliability. But he still had two magical 500-mile race wins, first a the Indianapolis 500 in May and again after a fantastic battle with Michael Andretti at Michigan, a race that featured the aero-assisting Handford Device that created a wealth of passing.

Here are some of the highlights of Montoya’s first two years in open wheel, with the news today he’s coming back to IndyCar in 2014 with Roger Penske.

1999: Target ad: Meet our new driver

1999: Target ad: Teammate Jimmy Vasser gives advice on a new car

1999: Montoya wins his first race at Long Beach

1999: A fantastic pole lap at Detroit, with great sound

1999: Another win at Mid-Ohio

1999: Target ad: Midseason, Montoya well on his way to the title

2000: Indianapolis Motor Speedway video looking at JPM’s rookie win at the 500

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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