He’s baaack — maybe: Juan Pablo Montoya may run NASCAR’s Brickyard 400

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When Juan Pablo Montoya left NASCAR at the end of last season, he left with some unfinished business – particularly at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

While Montoya will once again race at the fabled Brickyard in his new IndyCar ride for Penske Racing in May, he still hasn’t gotten over how he came close to twice winning NASCAR’s Brickyard 400, only to fall short each time.

If NASCAR drivers Kurt Busch and AJ Allmendinger can jump series to potentially race in this year’s Indy 500 (and then later that same day in NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600), why can’t an IndyCar/former Sprint Cup driver go back in time for at least one race, as well?

In an IndyCar press conference in Orlando, Montoya said he’s entertaining thoughts about potentially coming back and racing in this year’s Brickyard 400.

If he does, it would likely be for team owner Roger Penske, and not a return one-off for former NASCAR boss Chip Ganassi. With only a two-car Sprint Cup team, Penske has the room to add Montoya for the Brickyard.

“I think the Brickyard would be a good thing,” Montoya said. “I’ve been so close so many times, it would be a good way of closing that chapter with a good win there. I know Roger hasn’t won there. If we could get the opportunity to do it, I think it would be pretty cool.”

So since he was on the topic of running at the Brickyard, Montoya was asked if he’d entertain perhaps adding one other Cup race to his dance card this season – running both the Indianapolis 500 in his Indy car, hop on a plane to Concord, N.C., and then compete in NASCAR’s longest race of the season, the Coca-Cola 600, that evening. Heck, he might even be able to share the flight with Busch and Allmendinger.

“No, unless Roger asks me,” Montoya said.

Would JPM ask Penske to do the proverbial “double?”

“No, I got enough things going on,” Montoya said before breaking into a laugh and adding, “No, no, no, no, no.”

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Power, Newgarden, Dixon fastest in first of 2 IndyCar practices today at Barber Motorsports Park

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Will Power was fastest in Friday’s first of two IndyCar practice sessions at Barber Motorsports Park.

Power covered the 2.3-mile permanent road course in 1:07.5987 minutes at 122.488 mph in the 45-minute practice session.

Even though he spun off the course during his session, Phoenix winner Josef Newgarden still managed to be second-fastest (121.919 mph at 1:07.9141 minutes), followed by Scott Dixon (121.296 mph/1:082627), Max Chilton (121.251 mph/1:08.2882) and Ed Jones (121.215 mph/1:09.5692).

Sixth through 10th were Simon Pagenaud (121.208 mph/1:08.3122), Jordan King (121.113 mph/1:083661), Graham Rahal (121.059 mph/1:08.3964), St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais (121.029 mph/1:08.4131) and rookie Zach Veach (121.014 mph/1:08.4216).

Here’s the full speed chart:

Incidents:

* Early in the session, Long Beach winner Alexander Rossi ran off the track and into the grass, striking a small sign, but was able to get back on-track. However, Rossi was only able to complete 10 laps, relegating him to 20th-fastest in the 23-car field.

* Moments later, it appeared the rear brakes locked up on Newgarden heading into Turn 5, spinning him into the gravel trap. He was able to get going and returned to the pits for service and was back on-track with less than four minutes remaining in the session.

ALSO OF NOTE:

* The second practice session of the day will begin at 3:50 p.m. ET. A third practice will take part Saturday morning at 10:50 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying beginning at 4:05 p.m. ET. The race, to be televised live Sunday on NBCSN, is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. ET.

* However, weather forecast does not look promising for Sunday’s race. As of 1 p.m. ET today, the forecast calls for 100 percent rain throughout the day.

* Dixon has had an incredible record at Barber Motorsports Park, with seven podium finishes in eight starts there. Except for one thing: he has yet to win a race there. But he does have five runner-up and two other third-place showings on the permanent road course.

Follow @JerryBonkowski