Report: Juan Pablo Montoya may do ‘double’ in 2015

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He never tried it during his seven-season stint in NASCAR, but now that he’s back full-time in IndyCar, Juan Pablo Montoya is thinking about doing the “double” next season.

Partly inspired by what Kurt Busch did in May, racing in the Indianapolis 500 and then later that night in NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, Montoya is going to try and sell team owner Roger Penske on the idea for next year, according to MRN.com’s Dustin Long.

“If (Penske) wanted me to do it, then I probably would do it,” Montoya said, according to Long. “(Running both races in the same day) would be cool. But I don’t want to force (Penske) into anything.”

Although he’s full-time now on the Verizon IndyCar Series, the 2000 Indianapolis 500-winning Montoya has competed in two Sprint Cup races this season, finishing 18th at Michigan and 23rd last Sunday in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis.

“The hard thing is … to be honest, we did one day of testing at Nashville,” Montoya said. “We went to Michigan and we struggled all weekend with the rear of the car. We struggled in qualifying being on the splitter. In the race we were the other way; we were so loose. We unloaded in Indy the same way – like sideways.”

Montoya, who finished fifth in this year’s Indy 500, is ready to embrace a full 1,100 miles in the same day.

Who knows, he may even share an airplane flight from Indy to Charlotte with Busch, who is reportedly considering doing the double once again in 2015.

“Physically I don’t think it would be that hard, to be honest with you,” Montoya said. “If you want to do it properly, it would be a lot of fun. … There are a lot of possibilities if you think about it.”

Thus far, only four drivers have tried the double. Busch was the most recent, preceded by John Andretti, Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon.

Of the four, Stewart is the only one to finish both races on the same day, having done so in 2001.

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Schmidt Peterson hires IndyCar’s first female lead engineer, will work with Hinchcliffe

Photo courtesy Audi Sport
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Leena Gade, who helped lead Audi to three wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has joined Schmidt Peterson Motorsports as lead engineer for the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe.

“I’m really honored that I’ve got a chance to come across and work in INDYCAR,” Gade said in a team media release. “When I was a kid, I used to watch Indy car (racing), especially when Nigel Mansell first came over (in 1993), and I followed it quite a lot.

“During my sports car days, it was a little less so, until I had friends come across to the U.S. to work in it like Piers (Phillips, SPM’s general manager).

“I’m quite honored to be given the chance. It is going to be something completely different to anything I’ve ever done before, so it’s a big learning curve, but it’s a challenge that I’m really relishing, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Gade, who grew up in India and is from Great Britain, is one of the most recognized engineers in all forms of international motorsports. She becomes the first female lead engineer in Verizon IndyCar Series history.

She’s also the second female lead engineer in Indy racing history, joining Diane Holl, who served as engineer for Adrian Fernandez, Tony Kanaan (Tasman Motorsports) and Richie Hearn (Della Penna Motorsports) in CART from 1996-2000.

Gade, who holds engineering degrees from the University of Manchester in England, has engineered cars in several race series and for several manufacturers, including F1, BMW, A1 Grand Prix, GT racing, Jaguar, Audi and most recently with Bentley Motorsport.

She became the first female race engineer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011, and followed that up with another Le Mans win in 2012, as well as being part of the World Endurance Championship drivers and manufacturers titles in the same year.

Also in 2012, she was named FIA WEC “Man of the Year” and was awarded the C&R Racing Women in Technology award from the Lyn St. James Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation.

Her team also won Le Mans for a third time in 2014.

“There was significant interest in Leena amongst the international motorsports community, so we’re really excited that she sees where we’re taking SPM, believes in what we’re doing and that she is now a part of our organization,” Piers Phillips said. “ I’ve known Leena for quite some time now and I’ve worked alongside her, so I knew the credit she’s been given is well deserved. We’re very much looking forward to throwing her into the deep end and seeing her add to the team’s success.”

Gade and Hinchcliffe go into the deep end that Phillips referenced when they take part in a team test Jan. 24 at Sebring International Raceway, the first time the pair will work together.