Juan Pablo Montoya earns first open-wheel podium showing since 2006, finishes third in Firestone 600 at Texas

4 Comments

Juan Pablo Montoya earned his first podium appearance since returning to the IndyCar Series this season, finishing third in Saturday’s Firestone 600 IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Montoya’s best season finish to date — and his first open-wheel podium finish since being runner-up in the 2006 Formula One Monaco Grand Prix — adds to his fourth-place showing earlier in the year at Long Beach and his fifth-place result in the Indianapolis 500.

Montoya’s driving prompted former IndyCar driver turned NBC analyst Paul Tracy even went so far as to claim the old JPM is back.

While Montoya won’t go that far, he definitely is continuing to shake off some of the rust after seven seasons in NASCAR.

“We’re getting better, we’re getting there,” Montoya said. “I was kind of pissed off at that restart because you expect them to go in a zone, and that’s why they have the zone, and then when they don’t respect it, it’s kinda unfair.”

Montoya was talking about IndyCar’s decision to do away with double file restarts for the remainder of the season, beginning in Saturday night’s race.

“What’s the rule? If you’re going to let them restart anywhere, then don’t put the cones (indicating an acceleration zone leading to the start/finish line to assure cars are all single-file when the green flag drops and no car is able to get an unfair jump on the restart),” Montoya said. “It’s like NASCAR, if you have two lines, then you have to respect them. Hopefully, they (IndyCar officials) really look at it because it was a bit of a joke.”

What wasn’t a joke was Montoya’s finish. He didn’t have enough to catch winner Ed Carpenter, but he gave Team Penske teammate Will Power a run for his money until Power shot by on the final lap to take second away from Montoya.

“They said pit and then they said do whatever the leader does,” Montoya said. “So I did what the leader did (and stayed on the track instead of pitting for tires like Power did). It’s one of those cautions.

“Overall, I think our car was amazing today. Everybody at Team Penske did an amazing job. We had a flat tire right at the beginning, and to drive through the field, that was fun.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

Getty Images
Leave a comment

We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.