IndyCar: Montoya stymied late by lapped traffic, finishes 2nd in Milwaukee

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Traffic is always a challenge to deal with at the Milwaukee Mile, and so it went again for Juan Pablo Montoya in today’s ABC Supply Wisconsin 250.

Montoya last pitted on Lap 192 of 250, and moved past Josef Newgarden for second behind Team Penske teammate Will Power with less than 50 laps to go.

As Power and Montoya started to encounter the backmarkers, Power’s advantage dwindled to less than one second. But over the final stretch, the Australian was able to more deftly move past the slower cars.

Meanwhile, Montoya couldn’t make any progress in the traffic and eventually had to settle for runner-up honors behind Power, who claimed his third win of the season.

“It’s just hard. These cars are so aero-sensitive and here, it’s just one line, so you’re kinda screwed,” Montoya told NBCSN after his fourth podium finish of the year. “We struggled with our stability early in the race, but everybody on this PPG Chevy today did a good job.”

Montoya certainly put on a veteran performance, but he also may have gotten a bit of luck as well.

On Lap 60, he came in for his first stop but entered his pit box sideways and hit a left front tire. However, instead of penalizing Montoya, Race Control merely gave the Colombian a warning.

Afterwards, Montoya recognized his error in the pits.

“I just came in a little too hot,” he said.

But Montoya managed to recover and also stay mathematically in the hunt for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship – albeit at a sizable gap of 114 points behind Power with two races to go.

Power’s win and Helio Castroneves’ 11th-place finish helped Power push his lead to 39 points over the Brazilian. When asked which one of his Penske teammates had the edge, Montoya tried not to choose sides.

“[Power] deserves it, but Helio deserves the championship as well,” he said. “Both have been really close and both have had a bit of heartbreak.

“It’s hard to say which one, but you know, Will’s doing what it takes right now to win the championship.”

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.