Juan Pablo Montoya. In a Team Penske IndyCar. At Phoenix International Raceway.
This is as close to a stocking stuffer as could be possible for IndyCar fans this time of year, especially considering that the series itself won’t be racing at the flat, challenging 1-mile oval anytime soon.
But Montoya’s testing there today, in what will be his first oval running in an IndyCar since 2000 at Auto Club Speedway at Fontana. The Colombian and teammate Helio Castroneves were scheduled to test at ACS on Monday, but the test was postponed due to high winds.
Montoya did get his first IndyCar running in in late November at Sebring and was immediately within three tenths of his other teammate, Will Power.
Power, meanwhile, will take on a new social media role later today as he’ll be participating in IndyCar’s first Vine chat at 2 p.m. ET this afternoon. Tweet questions using #PowerVine and starting at 2, he’ll be answering. Further details are in the @IndyCar tweet below, and also available @PenskeRacing.
Since winning the 2013 IndyCar season finale, Power did something rather awesome during the month of November. He grew this mustache for a good cause as part of “Movember.”
MotorSportsTalk continues its review of the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, with a look at Ryan Briscoe. Despite not having a ride to start the year, Briscoe ended strongly courtesy of a series of strong runs at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Ryan Briscoe, No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
- 2014: 11th Place, Best Finish 4th, Best Start 4th, 1 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 12.8 Avg. Start, 10.6 Avg. Finish
- 2015: 18th Place (8 starts), Best Finish 5th, Best Start 2nd, 1 Top-5, 4 Top-10, 10 Laps Led, 17.8 Avg. Start, 12.0 Avg. Finish
For those who slag on Briscoe as being undeserving of top level equipment, his 2015 second half provided a friendly reminder of his overall ability level in what might be less than the best machinery.
Briscoe was thrust into the No. 5 car under trying circumstances to begin with, getting all of an hour’s worth practice replacing the injured James Hinchcliffe ahead of the Indianapolis 500. But subsequent drives on the ovals there, Texas, Fontana, Milwaukee and Iowa – even if the results were less than ideal – showcased a driver determined to show to the paddock he still had it, and then some. His defense against Juan Pablo Montoya in Sonoma was nothing short of brilliant, and courtesy of double points he actually finished ahead of full-season driver Stefano Coletti.
The Australian immediately gelled with the SPM team, engineer Allen McDonald and race strategist Robert Gue. He continues to prove he’s an asset, as he has enjoyed multiple opportunities to extend his career in various arenas of motorsport in both open-wheel and sports cars, the latter of which he won at both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Corvette Racing this year.
Following an early retirement for Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton has closed even more on his third Formula 1 World Championship.
View it above in the race recap from the 2015 Russian Grand Prix.