Juan Pablo Montoya

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Montoya’s Indy 500 livery, sponsor revealed in Bristol

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New Team Penske partner Fitzgerald Glider Kits will be Juan Pablo Montoya’s primary sponsor for the month of May in the Verizon IndyCar Series, at both the INDYCAR Grand Prix and 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

The new partner makes its first appearance on an IndyCar with Josef Newgarden’s No. 2 Chevrolet this weekend at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

This also, strangely, marks the first 2017 livery reveal of an extra car for this year’s Indianapolis 500.

Meanwhile the full Fitzgerald reveal has taken place at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend, where the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series are racing. A picture the reveal of Montoya’s car this morning is below, from NASCAR Talk’s Dustin Long:

The release from Team Penske is below:

Team Penske announced today that Fitzgerald Glider Kits, North America’s leading truck glider kit assembler, is building on its partnership with the team in NASCAR to become a primary sponsor for three Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2017, including the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 28 with driver Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya will be pursuing his third Indianapolis 500 victory after winning the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in 2015 while driving for Team Penske.

Fitzgerald will also serve as the primary sponsor on the No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet driven by Montoya at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on May 13. The Fitzgerald livery is making its debut this weekend on the No. 2 Chevy driven by Josef Newgarden in the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. Today’s announcement coincides with the official unveiling of the No. 2 Fitzgerald Ford Fusion that Brad Keselowski will race in two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) events later this season – the spring race at Talladega Superspeedway on May 7 and the fall race at Richmond International Raceway on September 9.

“Team Penske is proud to work with Fitzgerald and to have the company build on its partnership with us in NASCAR to now expand to INDYCAR, it certainly shows their commitment to motorsports and to our organization,” said Roger Penske. “This is a great opportunity for our team and Fitzgerald to team up for the greatest motorsport event in the world – the Indianapolis 500. With a two-time Indy 500 winner and proven champion in Juan Pablo Montoya behind the wheel, it definitely could be a special month of May at Indianapolis for Fitzgerald and our other partners.”

Fitzgerald is also a primary sponsor for Team Penske’s NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) team for three events – including this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway – and has a partnership with Brad Keselowski Racing and the No. 19 Ford F-150 driven by Austin Cindric in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS).

“To be a part of the Indianapolis 500, and to do it with Team Penske, is going to be so exciting for our employees and customers,” said Fitzgerald founder Tommy Fitzgerald Sr. “What makes it even more special is getting a chance to work with a driver like Juan who has such an incredible resume and track record at Indy. We are really excited to showcase the Fitzgerald brand to the fans of INDYCAR while still being a big part of Team Penske’s NASCAR operation. We’re looking forward to building on this momentum for the rest of the year.”

Montoya is one of the most decorated drivers in motorsports history. In addition to his two Indianapolis 500 wins, Montoya has also earned victories in Formula 1, MENCS, NXS and sports car racing, including three triumphs in the prestigious Daytona 24 Hour race. Montoya captured the INDYCAR Championship in 1999 during his rookie season on the strength of seven wins. His 2015 victory at the Brickyard represented the record 16th win for Roger Penske’s team in the Indianapolis 500. Montoya’s first Indy 500 win came in 2000.

The INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is set for Saturday, May 13 at 3:30 pm ET. The 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on Sunday, May 28 beginning at 11 am ET. Both races will be seen live on ABC.

Newgarden hails ‘spectacular’ Montoya after JPM’s first 2017 test

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At 26 years old, Josef Newgarden was watching Juan Pablo Montoya win races in CART, then Formula 1, then NASCAR as his own career was starting out.

When Montoya returned to IndyCar in 2014 at age 38, Newgarden was just 23, and the two had the chance to share a race track together for the first time.

After Newgarden’s subsequent rise over the years, he was scouted by Team Penske, and eventually signed to replace Montoya in the team’s No. 2 Verizon Chevrolet for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

But Montoya remains part of the Team Penske landscape in 2017, driving the team’s fifth car during the month of May at both the IndyCar Grand Prix in Indianapolis and the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

He’s also been mentioned as the leading candidate to drive with Penske’s highly likely but not officially confirmed future sports car program, which Penske discussed openly during a media roundtable at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg season opener.

At last week’s test at Barber Motorsports Park, Newgarden and Montoya had the chance to work together as teammates and as Newgarden explained, having the chance to study his predecessor’s data was something he relished.

“Juan’s fun to be around. He’s an interesting guy,” Newgarden told NBC Sports. “He’s so competitive… and you can tell how competitive he is interacting with him. But it’s fun to look at his data, and have the privilege to look at that.

“I’m excited to see that at Indianapolis, because that’s the big race for all of us together at Team Penske.”

Montoya has mentioned his appreciation for Newgarden in the past, particularly after the two raced so closely for position at the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America last season.

Newgarden said he’s looked up to Montoya for years and seeing him in this element provided such a rare glimpse into his world.

“The level of respect I have for Juan is tremendous,” he said. “He’s been so spectacular, and is even more so on ovals. I’ll be so thankful to get the chance to look at his data.”

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Newgarden, who today is promoting the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 9, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN) and has that sandwiched in-between two tests at the Indianapolis oval. Team Penske used a team test last Friday and will be back in action as part of a Chevrolet manufacturer test on Saturday.

“It’s a great couple days to get my feet wet,” he said. “I hadn’t been around there with Team Penske yet. It’s good to get that type of knowledge early on.”

Montoya returns to natural IndyCar habitat, back at Barber test

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For the first time in more than 20 years, Juan Pablo Montoya isn’t racing full-time. One of the greatest drivers of his generation is in a transition phase between a full-time seat in the Verizon IndyCar Series and a potential seat with Team Penske’s likely-if-not-officially-confirmed future sports car program.

But Montoya is still staying plenty race-sharp in a year where he’ll compete in a variety of machinery. He won the Race of Champions in January, tested the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE at Sebring in February and was back in his natural habitat of a Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar on Tuesday, in preparation for his month of May outing in the team’s fifth car for both IndyCar races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Times don’t mean much for a test day but Montoya was immediately on pace in fourth yesterday at Barber Motorsports Park, working with Team Penske veteran Ron Ruzewski and engineer Raul Prados on the box for his No. 22 Chevrolet, per Trackside Online and IndyCar.com.

This was Montoya’s first day in an IndyCar since he finished third at the 2016 season finale, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma in September.

“I feel like I drove the car yesterday,” Montoya said, via an IndyCar release. “It’s kind of fun. I’ve been out of the car since September, but I feel fine. I have a new crew, new guys, new engineer. It’s working really well.”

The shift for Montoya this year comes after his first two seasons in F3000 in 1997 and 1998, the latter of which he won a championship and propelled him into CART in 1999 when he won that year’s title on a tiebreaker over Dario Franchitti. After another year with a few wins in 2000, notably his romp on debut at the Indianapolis 500, he was off to Formula 1 where he raced for five and a half years from 2001 through 2006. His abrupt F1 ending produced the start of his NASCAR career, which stretched from the end of 2006 through 2013 before coming back to IndyCar, where he had been full-time the last three years and probably should have won the 2015 title had he not lost that one on a tiebreaker to Scott Dixon.

Home life is the way forward for Montoya now, who’s overseeing son Sebastian’s burgeoning kart career of his own and racing when he wants to rather than when he has to. And given he’s already back on pace in his first day back in an IndyCar in six months, it should come as no surprise given his ability level.

Seeing the fun side of Montoya has been evident on social media; he and Tony Kanaan both posted a pair of Instagram stories last night as they chronicled their flight delays getting out of Birmingham and back to Florida in the wee hours. And yes, Montoya did make it home before sunrise.

Penske confirms JPM for Indy GP; all but confirms sports car effort

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Team Penske’s planned expansion into sports car racing, rumored for well over a year, is set to be formally confirmed later this year, Roger Penske said Saturday at St. Petersburg.

Additionally, one of the drivers who may be part of that program – Juan Pablo Montoya – has been confirmed to run at the IndyCar Grand Prix at Indianapolis in a fifth Team Penske car, ahead of the Indianapolis 500 where he’d already been announced.

“We’re looking at doing some sports car work… we’d like to put all the pieces together and hopefully will have something by mid-summer if we’re going to go for next year,” Penske told a small group of assembled reporters on Saturday.

“I don’t want to wait another year, to be honest with you. We’ve waited a year now. There’s a couple of options.”

“For Juan, I’ll run him in the G.P., and we want to get him a race with our mechanics before the ‘500. We’ll run him for both the Grand Prix and the ‘500.

“If we run a sports car program he’s on the top of the list of those to drive for us. That was part of the discussion. When we talked about wanting to run him this, when we talked about doing this, he’d be at the top of the list.”

For the fifth car at the ‘500 and the Grand Prix, Team Penske believes it will be a number of existing crew members already from the team in addition to possible extra members set to be hired for the upcoming sports car program.

Right now, Montoya is the only extra ‘500 car addition also confirmed to run at the IndyCar Grand Prix, with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing also working hard from a commercial standpoint to see Oriol Servia run the GP before the ‘500 as well.

Penske wouldn’t be pressed on the number of sports cars he’d run, but did say “it won’t be three.” He also said Helio Castroneves would be in the frame for a Penske sports car seat.

The likely if not formally confirmed Daytona Prototype international (DPi) platform would be a car in the top class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the Prototype class. This new platform made its race debut at this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.

A couple key IMSA officials are on site in St. Petersburg today and were spotted at the Team Penske transporter area this afternoon.

Penske would love to do Le Mans, but until the DPi platform would be integrated into the regulations and be eligible to run at Le Mans – there are distinct powerplant and electronics differences between the manufacturer DPis in IMSA and the spec-LMP2 chassis in the FIA World Endurance Championship and Le Mans – a DPi is yet be eligible to do so.

“I wish Ganassi would loan me a couple cars,” he joked, in reference to Chip Ganassi’s four-car Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT program.

“I think (DPi) is great. It’s a good series and one we’re looking at. The thing is with Balance of Performance, you’ve got multiple chassis and engines, and it’s difficult to get it right. We did it once, had gear and rpm changes, and that makes it tough.”

IndyCar 2017 team preview: Team Penske

Pagenaud looks for a title encore. Photo: IndyCar
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MotorSportsTalk looks through the teams competing in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season. First up are the defending champions from Team Penske, which had a phenomenal 2016 season with 10 wins, 11 poles and a 1-2-3 in the championship, as Simon Pagenaud romped to his first title.

Drivers (Engineer, Strategist)

1-Simon Pagenaud (Ben Bretzman, Kyle Moyer)
2-Josef Newgarden (Brian Campe, Tim Cindric)
3-Helio Castroneves (Jonathan Diuguid, Roger Penske)
12-Will Power (David Faustino, Jon Bouslog)

Manufacturer/aero kit: Chevrolet

Sponsors: Menards, PPG, HPE (No. 1), Verizon, Hawk Performance, DeVilbiss, Discount Tire (No. 2), Hitachi, Shell, Rev Group (No. 3), Verizon (No. 12)

Power looks for a full season of consistency. Photo: IndyCar
Power looks for a full season of consistency. Photo: IndyCar

What went right in 2016: Almost everything, really. With 10 wins, 11 poles and a 1-2-3 points finish in Team Penske’s 50th season of competition, Penske was first in class by a significant margin.

What went wrong in 2016: By Penske standards, the team was not as competitive at Indianapolis. That will have to change this year. Juan Pablo Montoya, who finished eighth in points last year and would have been lower had it not been for a double points-aided podium finish in the season finale, was inconsistent over the season and Josef Newgarden will look to improve upon that.

Newgarden's Team Penske arrival is a key story line in 2017. Photo: IndyCar
Newgarden’s Team Penske arrival is a key story line in 2017. Photo: IndyCar

What’s changed for 2017: The Newgarden addition in the driver lineup and the crew swap between the Nos. 2 and 12 cars. Montoya continues in a fifth car for the Indianapolis 500, the first time Penske has expanded that far.

What they’ll look to accomplish in 2017: Keep at the same mantra of “effort equals results,” get all four drivers on the board winning-wise, regain the win at Indy and retain their championship belt. It seems hard to believe, but the last time Penske won back-to-back titles was in 2000 and 2001 with Gil de Ferran. Sam Hornish Jr. (2006), Will Power (2014) and Simon Pagenaud (2016) have won Penske titles since.

The consistent Castroneves looks for more. Photo: IndyCar
The consistent Castroneves looks for more. Photo: IndyCar

MST PREDICTIONS

Tony DiZinno: Penske won’t again win 10 races in 2017; the field is too deep for that. But I’d still expect them to win the championship with Will Power getting on the board for the second time in his career, and I believe all four of their drivers will win at least once this year, for a total of anywhere between six to eight triumphs. They won’t however, win this year’s Indianapolis 500… and I’ll get to who I think will in a later prediction.

Kyle Lavigne: The only way Team Penske’s 2016 season could have been better is if they won the Indy 500. And if Helio Castroneves doesn’t suffer damage to one of his wheel pods late in the race, it may have happened.

Team Penske’s driver lineup is again stacked from top to bottom. Simon Pagenaud and Will Power are proven champions while Helio Castroneves has won everything except a championship. And new addition Josef Newgarden will be nipping at their heels while Juan Pablo Montoya rejoins the group for the Indy 500. While winning 10 races again is a stretch, it’s hard to imagine a “down” year.

Pagenaud and Power seem most likely to challenge for a championship, though any of their full time competitors could do it. Expect the 2017 champion to again come from the Penske lineup.

Luke Smith: Penske enters 2017 as the team to beat, and I don’t see that changing this year. Weak spots are very hard to find, even more so thanks to the addition of Newgarden. I think he can be in the title mix this year, even if it is his first in the ‘big time’. I’ll stick my neck out and say it’ll be between him, Power and Pagenaud fighting for the title come Sonoma – and Helio will win the 500 for a fourth time.