Transition back to IndyCar “still hard” for Juan Pablo Montoya


Juan Pablo Montoya is now two races into his return to open-wheel racing. But to hear him tell it, the transition back remains anything but easy.

Montoya took this week’s IndyCar test at Texas Motor Speedway as a chance to get more acclimated with the Dallara DW12 on an oval. He made 14 starts at TMS in a NASCAR Sprint Cup stock car, but had never experienced the track in an open-wheel car.

Therein lies one of the toughest obstacles in his adjustment to the faster speeds of the IndyCars after seven years in stock cars.

“It was hard at the beginning. It’s still hard,” the Colombian said at TMS. “There are weeks, like here for example, places that I have been in the Cup car before makes it harder. Sebring was actually pretty simple because I kind of had the memory of the IndyCar and that was a long time ago, but that’s what I’ve done there always. You kind of have a reference.

“Where like here for example, you are used to lifting and braking and all that stuff and you can run fairly wide open. It’s hard. It makes it fun but it’s so much quicker.”

Montoya also noted that he was leaning on some of his past experience in Formula One to get him through the adjustment, but said that the physicality of driving an IndyCar was another challenge entirely.

“Being in F1 really helped me get back to [driving] an IndyCar because it relates more to an F1 than an IndyCar when I drove [in CART],” he said. “We’ve got carbon brakes, paddle shifting, tunnel downforce.

“Still, something really hard is how physical they are. To run a race in an IndyCar is like doing a 1,200-mile Cup race or something. It’s like, three times harder.”

IndyCar: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports expands mentoring program for tech school students

Photos: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
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IndyCar team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today that it is extending and widening a unique sponsorship and mentoring program that began last season with students from Lincoln Technical Institute.

The program began last year, with students from several Lincoln Tech branches attending select IndyCar events for an entire weekend.

The students, primarily from auto and diesel training programs, got an insiders experience with the team, taking part in team meetings, watching team workers prepare and service the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe, sat on pit boxes during practices, qualifying and, of course races.

The overall experience was to get students more interested and involved in potential careers in the IndyCar field.

“We said at the beginning of last season that we knew our students would benefit and learn from the professionalism and drive of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team,” Lincoln Tech President and CEO Scott Shaw said. “But the experience they received working with the entire pit crew team and in particular crew member Cole Jagger – a Lincoln Tech graduate himself – went beyond even our own expectations.

“We were grateful for the time they spent mentoring our students, and we are thrilled to once again be part of the racing legacy of team owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson.”

Lincoln Tech will once again serve as an associate sponsor on Hinchcliffe’s car for the entire 2018 IndyCar season. In addition, it is expanding its Mentor Program to select students to attend a minimum of nine IndyCar races from six last season.

Students are selected based upon their grade point average, attendance, conduct and overall commitment to becoming outstanding automotive technicians. An interest in IndyCar and a desire to work in the industry is also considered.

One student that took part last season, Tyler Crist of Lincoln Tech’s Denver campus, joined the team at the IndyCar race in Long Beach last April, watching as Hinchcliffe won the event.

“It was the best weekend of my life,” Crist said after the event. “It reminded me of why I joined this field in the first place and to never give up on my dreams.”

Jagger will oversee the expanded mentoring program this season. For Jagger, being involved especially hits home, as he is a graduate of Lincoln Tech’s Indianapolis campus.

“I totally enjoyed working with the Lincoln Tech students that participated in the Mentor Program last year and look forward to meeting this year’s group,” Jagger said. “Being a Lincoln Tech grad, I hope the students realize that if you have a passion for cars, a career in racing is something that’s not out of reach. If I can be an example for them to follow, that makes it even more rewarding.”

In addition to the at-track activities of the mentoring program, several Lincoln Tech branches across the country will utilize CNC computerized machining and manufacturing tools to assist in creating car parts for SPM.

“Through this unique partnership, we’re able to hopefully find the next class of talent that could one day be part of our organization,” SPM president Jon Flack said. “We’re looking forward to another year of the mentorship program and having their students be ‘boots on the ground’ gaining real-life experience with our team.”

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