Cindric: Penske team could put Montoya in stock cars again

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Juan Pablo Montoya is a full-fledged IndyCar Series driver again, but his stock car racing days may not be done.

Montoya has ran the last seven seasons in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, netting a meager two wins (both on road courses) in 253 starts. After winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2000 and then moving on to a solid career in Formula One from 2001-2006, the Colombian’s Cup tenure was largely mediocre.

However, comments from Penske Racing president Tim Cindric during Montoya’s test session today at Sebring International Raceway have brought up the possibility that we could see Montoya in a car with fenders again down the road.

“I think he has some unfinished business in the stock car,” Cindric opined. “At the right time, we may put him in one of our cars that we feel is competitive. I think it’s an interesting thing to do. We have to mutually commit to this.  This needs to be where the success needs to be to start with.”

So far, Cindric has been impressed with Montoya’s initial work in a Team Penske IndyCar at Sebring. While he understands that Montoya is still making strides toward a sense of comfort in the cockpit, Cindric is confident that his team’s newest driver will be quick to get everything down pat.

“This guy has done it before and he knows he can be successful,” he said. “It’s going to be a little bit of a time. I know he’s a good study. Before he came here, he watched a lot of video. He doesn’t sit around and think he’ll hop in the car and be fast.

“I think he’ll be a lot like [teammate] Will [Power] in that he will come to the race prepared. Will knows what happened the past few years, what he did, what the other guys did. Juan came here prepared and did his homework.”

Cindric also hopes Montoya can help provide a new character to Team Penske, which hasn’t won an IndyCar Series title since 2006 with Sam Hornish Jr (now in NASCAR).

“Trying to understand that championship mentality is something we failed the last four, five six years,” he said. “We should have half the championships from that span, but we don’t. Maybe Juan can bring us that kind of mentality.”

Photo Credit: John Hendrick/INDYCAR.

‘No desire’ for Lewis Hamilton to race in Indianapolis 500

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Lewis Hamilton has ruled out a future appearance in the Indianapolis 500, saying he has “no real plans” to do any serious racing once his time in Formula 1 is over.

Former teammate and current McLaren driver Fernando Alonso took part in the 101st running of the Indy 500 in May, qualifying fifth and running high up the order before retiring late on with an engine issue.

The F1-to-IndyCar crossover proved to be one of the biggest motorsport stories of the year, and has stirred the imagination of other drivers to make a similar step into other events in the future, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans which is known to be on Alonso’s radar as well as that of Haas racer Romain Grosjean.

Three-time F1 world champion Hamilton admired 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato’s victory ring when on the podium at the Japanese Grand Prix earlier this month, trying it on and joking it may spur him to enter the race to try and win the jewelry.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, Hamilton stressed he made the comment in jest, saying he holds not interest in entering the ‘500.

“Honestly it hasn’t inspired me to do the Indy 500,” Hamilton said.

“I’ve always respected it and appreciated it. I got to watch part of it when Fernando did it which I thought was super exciting. I love the idea of drivers being able to do more than one series.

“Just the other day I got to drive an F1 car on an oval circuit which was interesting. I have a huge amount of respect for those drivers as it is quite scary approaching those banks at the speeds that they do.

“I personally don’t have a desire to drive it. Maybe one day I will go out and have some fun.

“I have a lot of opportunities to do those kinds of things, but no real plans to do anything serious.”

Hamilton has previously said he would like to try a NASCAR race for fun one day, but has made clear his plan after his F1 career is over is to distance himself from racing in order to pursue other interests.