Juan Pablo Montoya

Alonso (29) and Montoya (22) headline Indy one-off drivers. Photo: IndyCar

Different goals, objectives set for 2017’s Indy 500 extra drivers

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This year more than any other in the last four or five years, there are more Indianapolis-only entries than normal as the full-season field is only 21 cars, leaving more than a third of the field for the Indianapolis 500 comprised of likely single-race entries. Once Sebastien Bourdais was hurt, it provided an opportunity in one of those cars as well.

Within these 13 drivers, there’s two past Indianapolis 500 champions (Juan Pablo Montoya, Buddy Lazier), three of the four rookies including that one (Fernando Alonso, Jack Harvey, Zach Veach), the eternally savvy Oriol Servia, fan favorite Pippa Mann, young guns Spencer Pigot, Gabby Chaves and Sage Karam, and the driver making a comeback after six years in Jay Howard. And then, there was James Davison who got the call as Bourdais’ injury replacement.

All of them have different goals and objectives for this year’s race, given their respective team scenarios.

Here’s a look at the dozen drivers who are competing either part-time this year or only at Indianapolis who look to play spoiler on Sunday. The best speeds for all except Davison were done with qualifying level boost (he only drove on Monday) and the lap counts are totaled prior to Friday’s Carb Day activity.

Rolling into Indy has got Fernando Alonso like… Photo: IndyCar

29-Fernando Alonso
McLaren-Honda-Andretti Honda
Engineer: Eric Bretzman
Strategist: Michael Andretti
Best Speed this month: 231.827 (5th)
Total Laps: 452
Starts: 5th (231.300)
Indy 500 Record: Rookie

The man who has dominated the headlines this month since his shock announcement, Alonso’s taken to the Brickyard rather well in all phases. On paper for the race, he’s well positioned because he has been provided an all-star crew around him for a one-off entry. In Bretzman, he has the engineer who guided Scott Dixon to most of his career success; in Michael Andretti, he has a guy calling his race who is renowned for his calls; in Gil de Ferran, he has Andretti’s answer to Rick Mears (Penske) and Dario Franchitti (Ganassi) as an Indianapolis driving sherpa of sorts.

Yet it will be things such as the rolling start, being in the middle of a three-wide launch, coming in for yellow flag pit stops, and aggression on restarts that will define his race. Quoting the old axiom, practice and qualifying is one thing, but how Alonso handles the magic – and the pressure – that comes with race day is his ultimate test, and the primary reason he signed up for this odyssey in the first place.

Photo: IndyCar

16-Oriol Servia
Manitowoc Honda
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Engineer: Tom German
Strategist: Tom German
Best Speed This Month: 230.997 (17th)
Laps: 271
Starts: 12th (230.309)
Indy 500 Record: 4th (2012) best finish in 8 prior starts

It seems we write this every year, but Servia is the safest and most consistent bet among the one-off entries. Yet in recent years, he hasn’t had a result to show for it. Servia enters this year with the defending race-winning engineer in Tom German, and the team enters with the determination of bouncing back after a miserable month of May last year and a rough start to 2017. Other than an engine failure on Monday, it’s been a typically smooth, under-the-radar month from the Catalan, who will be one to watch Sunday in his 200th career race start.

Photo: IndyCar

22-Juan Pablo Montoya
Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Chevrolet
Team Penske
Engineer: Raul Prados
Strategist: Ron Ruzewski
Best Speed This Month: 231.682 (7th)
Total Laps: 216
Starts: 18th (229.565)
Indy 500 Record: 2 wins (2000, 2015) from 4 prior starts

Going into the month, JPM was arguably the best positioned of the one-off entries, as this was announced late in 2016, with a driver who has nothing to lose in now his second start of the year. Additionally, unlike in each of the past three years, there were not multiple extra entries in the INDYCAR Grand Prix – this year, Montoya was the only extra car entered. That gave his crew a leg up among the other one-off crews, having had one extra race to get ready for Indy. While the usual “Penske perfect” and “effort equals results” mantras haven’t yet produced big results, it’d be a shock if Penske – and JPM – aren’t better on race day in traffic.

Photo: IndyCar

77-Jay Howard
Lucas Oil/Team One Cure Honda
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Team One Cure
Engineer: Chris Finch
Strategist: Chris Finch
Best Speed this month: 231.255 (11th)
Laps: 349
Starts: 20th (229.414)
Indy 500 Record: 30th (2011) best finish in 1 prior start

For Howard, coming back to the Speedway has gone respectably well to this point. SPM has again prepared a decent third car and Howard, despite being out of the game for six years, has reacclimatized better than perhaps anticipated. He’s a longshot, but has impressed with both speed and patience to this point. Quite possibly, his first career IndyCar top-10 is an achievable result in the car that features Team One Cure support, and NASCAR and IndyCar legend Tony Stewart as part of the entry.

Photo: IndyCar

24-Sage Karam
DRR Mecum Auctions Chevrolet
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
Engineer: Jeff Britton
Strategist: Dennis Reinbold
Best Speed this month: 230.134 (In Qualifying; Best Practice 228.159, 27th)
Total Laps: 317
Starts: 21st (229.380)
Indy 500 Record: 9th (2014) best finish in 3 prior starts

Perhaps the most polarizing driver in the field who could be IndyCar’s version of Roy McAvoy, “Tin Cup,” Karam boasts the combination of brash fearlessness, pure speed, and determination that often produces either big results or big repair bills. In 2014 he was lucky to get away with a spin on Carb Day without damage, then promptly starred in the pit stop competition and stormed from 31st to ninth in the race. He should have been at least co-rookie of the year, if not outright. But a devastating first lap crash followed in 2015 in a full Chip Ganassi Racing entry, and last year out of the spotlight back at DRR he carved from 23rd to fourth before colliding with another car and crashing out again. The team has opted to focus on race trim this year and Karam’s car appears a rocket in traffic. He’s more relaxed now, yet behind the wheel is so much fun to watch because of his unquestioned tenacity.

Al Unser Jr. and Gabby Chaves. Photo: IndyCar

88-Gabby Chaves
Harding Racing Chevrolet
Engineer: Matt Curry
Strategist: Larry Curry
Best Speed this month: 229.033 (26th)
Total Laps: 322
Starts: 25th (226.921)
Indy 500 Record: 16th (2015) best finish in 2 prior starts

Chaves has a great chance this year that he didn’t quite have last year. Whereas last year he was dumped from a ride he thought he had a fortnight before the season opener and was left scrambling to put a deal together for May with Dale Coyne Racing, Chaves has been working on this program for months and is the focal point around a new team that seems to have greater ambitions beyond just this May. Armed with a crew that includes team manager/competition director Larry Curry and son Matt Curry as engineer and two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser Jr. as team driving instructor, the sky is the limit here. As Harding is one of several teams making its Indianapolis 500 debut, finishing in one piece is the main goal but with nothing to lose. Chaves is a sneaky good, clean driver who will look to re-establish himself as a force within this series.

Photo: IndyCar

50-Jack Harvey
Michael Shank Racing with Andretti Autosport Honda
Engineer: Zach Eakin
Strategist: Tim Keene
Best Speed this month: 231.433
Total Laps: 379
Starts: 27th (225.742)
Indy 500 Record: Rookie

Andretti’s “other rookie” has his own point to prove after a month where he has had nearly all but the kitchen sink thrown at him with contact, engine failure, and an almost-crash in qualifying he got away with. Harvey’s got a past win on his resume at Indianapolis, with the Freedom 100 victory in 2015, and he knows enough now from the drafting practice he’s had to get comfortable in an IndyCar. Paired with Indy debutantes Shank, the Englishman’s big question is whether he’s race rusty, having not raced anything since his final start in Indy Lights in September 2015, and not having been in an oval race since Iowa in July of the same year. If Alonso is Andretti’s Kurt Busch, that would make Harvey hope to be Andretti’s Alexander Rossi – or at the very minimum, a Carlos Munoz – at Indianapolis.

Photo: IndyCar

63-Pippa Mann
Susan G. Komen Honda
Dale Coyne Racing
Engineer: Rob Ridgely
Strategist: Rob Ridgely
Best Speed This Month: 230.103 (25th)
Total Laps: 247
Starts: 28th (225.008)
Indy 500 Record: 18th (2016) best finish in 5 prior starts

Mann’s sustained Indianapolis 500 presence owes to her tireless work ethic year-round to make opportunities happen. Her fifth straight run with Coyne was set to feature no in-month changes in the driver lineup, but following Sebastien Bourdais’ accident it saw the lead car’s switch. Fortunately for Mann, she’s paired with an engineer she knows and works with well in Ridgely. It’s not been the easiest of months for her but as a consistent 500-mile race finisher in recent years, doing so again will be her now-annual typically solid performance.

Photo: IndyCar

11-Spencer Pigot
Oceanfront Recovery Chevrolet
Juncos Racing
Engineer: Steve Newey
Strategist: Tom Brown
Best Speed This Month: 226.140 (32ndd)
Total Laps: 246
Starts: 29th (224.052)
Indy 500 Record: 25th (2016) best finish in 1 prior start

Pigot’s Indianapolis 500 slot in 2017 wasn’t meant to be here but winds up here nonetheless in a fortuitous, last minute reunion. The thinking when he signed on again to be Ed Carpenter Racing’s road and street course driver for a second straight year was that Carpenter would run him in an extra car for the Indianapolis 500, as the team did for JR Hildebrand the last three years. But it was not to be, with Carpenter citing budgetary restrictions. Pigot, however, will get a one-off reunion with Ricardo Juncos as the two will now be on the grid together for Juncos’ IndyCar debut. Pigot won two straight championships with Juncos on the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, Pro Mazda in 2014 followed by Indy Lights in 2015, but winning is far from the goal this race. For Juncos, simply staying out of trouble will be key in its IndyCar race debut, and in Pigot, he has a usually safe pair of hands.

Photo: IndyCar

44-Buddy Lazier
Lazier Racing-Stalk It-Tivoli Chevrolet
Lazier Racing Partners
Engineer: Mitch Davis
Strategist: Mitch Davis
Best Speed This Month: 225.198 (33rd)
Total Laps: 85
Starts: 30th (223.417)
Indy 500 Record: 1 wins (1996) from 19 prior starts

The now-annual story of Buddy Lazier’s family-run, shoestring budget, Indianapolis 500-only entry rolls on for a fifth straight year. This makes him both a throwback and the last link to a past generation, which is fun to write about. The 1996 Indianapolis 500 champion is racing against 12 drivers who were born in the 1990s in this year’s field. Lazier is yet to finish a race since this team began in 2013, with early retirements in 2013 and 2014 before last year’s pre-race failure to start then ceding to a loose tire while running dozens of laps down in the final 40 laps, setting up a caution that produced Alexander Rossi’s magical run to the flag. It shouldn’t be as simple as setting the goal of finishing the race, but for the likable, still fit, now-49-year-old, that’s about the only realistic goal he and this small, Vail, Col.-based team can hope to achieve, with anything beyond that a bonus.

Photo: IndyCar

17-Sebastian Saavedra
AFS Chevrolet
Juncos Racing
Engineer: David Cripps
Strategist: David Cripps
Best Speed This Month: 227.889 (29th)
Total Laps: 236
Starts: 31st (221.142)
Indy 500 Record: 15th (2014) best finish in 5 prior starts

The likable Colombian with the spiky hair makes his sixth Indianapolis 500 start, with series debutantes Juncos joining Ganassi, KV, Dragon, Andretti and Herta as teams Saavedra has raced the ‘500 with – and this doesn’t include Conquest, with whom he failed to qualify in 2011. The Herta parallel is an interesting one because that was a debut team as well. Saavedra is race experienced and as such will draw on that for a safe 500 miles of running.

Photo: IndyCar

40-Zach Veach
Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim Chevrolet
AJ Foyt Racing
Engineer: Andy Brown
Strategist: Andy O’Gara
Best Speed this month: 227.082 (31st)
Total Laps: 293
Starts: 32nd (221.081)
Indy 500 Record: Rookie

Veach enters with an unexpected extra race under his belt thanks to his fill-in role for JR Hildebrand at Barber, but while that taught him pit stop practice and got him race ready, Barber and Indy could not be further apart as race tracks. And unfortunately, the same is true for these two events for how Veach has gone. After impressing at Barber, it’s been a tough month for the 22-year-old from Stockdale, Ohio with a heavy pre-qualifying crash in practice providing a setback. Veach never starred in the Freedom 100; he made a mistake with a potential winning car here last year with Belardi Auto Racing and had two midfield finishes prior to that with Andretti Autosport. Realistically, a solid top-20 finish would be an excellent result for him, working with veteran engineer Andy Brown and Josef Newgarden’s old strategist, Andy O’Gara.

Photo: IndyCar

18-James Davison
GEICO Honda
Dale Coyne Racing
Engineers: Craig Hampson/Olivier Boisson
Strategist: Darren Crouser
Best Speed This Month: 223.670 (34th)
Total Laps: 88
Starts: 33rd (No Speed)
Indy 500 Record: 16th (2014) best finish in 2 prior starts

In a last-minute call-up under less than ideal circumstances, Davison will make his third Indianapolis 500 start for Coyne. Davison’s been full-time in sports cars the last several seasons, but doesn’t have a full-time opportunity this year. If he can stay out of trouble both he and his car have enough speed to move up the order.

Team Penske struggles in Indy 500 qualifying, but ready for race day

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Team Penske didn’t have the qualifying effort it had hoped for this weekend, but is still expected to have a strong five-driver effort in next Sunday’s 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

Only one of Team Penske’s five drivers qualified in the fast nine on Saturday: Will Power in sixth place (with a four-lap average of 230.072 mph).

And then came Sunday’s Fast Nine shootout, the primary round of qualifying. Power struggled overall, with his first lap speed of 230.912 mph being his fastest, as he wound up with a four-lap average of 230.200 mph, leaving him to start the Indy 500 in ninth position and on the outside of Row 3.

“That was all we had,” Power told ABC. “Maybe I could have run a shorter gear, maybe I should have used fifth and not sixth. But we knew in order to use sixth, that’s the only way we were going to beat the Honda’s if we had the speed, but we didn’t. That’s as good as we got, but it’s a long race.”

Prior to his run Sunday, Power had this to say to ABC:

“(The track temperature coming up) definitely makes it harder. You can do a run and within minutes if the sun is gone and the clouds come out, you feel the difference. It’s suddenly much harder. It’s really picking the downforce to stay flat for four laps is what’s going to give you the most consistent run.”

As for the other four Team Penske drivers, they bunched up between 18th and 23rd:

* Two-time 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya will start on the outside of Row 6 in 18th position (229.565 mph).

“We’ve had good speed all week,” Montoya said. “We didn’t change anything from yesterday. It was good. You can win this race from all kinds of places. We’ll work on race trim tomorrow and Friday but I think we have a good race car.”

* Helio Castroneves will start from on the inside of Row 7 from the 19th position (229.515 mph).

“That was disappointing for sure,” Castroneves said. “We just didn’t have the speed that we would have liked and that we thought we would have had. But we knew it going into today that this would be an uphill battle for sure. Our car is really good in race trim however and 500 miles and 200 laps is a lot different from four laps. Of course you always want to start more near the front and you want to say you are on the pole or on the front row, but it means a lot more to say that you are an Indianapolis 500 winner. That is our focus and that is what all of Team Penske is here to do.”

* Josef Newgarden, the newest member of Team Penske, will start from the inside of Row 8, having qualified 22nd (226.474 mph).

“We had some adversity but have been able to overcome everything,” Newgarden said. “I really feel we’ll have a great car in the race. We’ll get everything dialed in during the couple of practices left and see what happens. Getting the car to drive in traffic is crucial here. I feel good about what we’ve done here and we’ll leave it all out there next week.”

* Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud will start alongside Newgarden, in the middle of Row 8 in 23rd position (228.093 mph).

“(The car has) great balance again but speed is still a little lacking,” Pagenaud said. “I’m not really sure what we are missing, if anything. It’s a mystery of Indianapolis, I guess. Not every day can be your day. We’ll keep our heads down and get it ready to go for the race. It’s a long race and if we get a couple of breaks, there’s no telling what can happen. This team always answers the bell when it needs to. Despite struggling a little this weekend, I have complete confidence in our ability next Sunday.”

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Montoya, Penske fifth crew dust off cobwebs in INDYCAR GP

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INDIANAPOLIS – Starting fifth and finishing 10th in the INDYCAR Grand Prix meant Juan Pablo Montoya and the crew assembled for his No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Chevrolet entry for Team Penske ticked a few of the key prep-for-the-rest-of-May items on the checklist.

Montoya wanted to qualify in the Firestone Fast Six, which he did despite not competing in a Verizon IndyCar Series race since last season’s finale at Sonoma Raceway in September.

He wanted to make more mistakes here than the rest of the month, as he’s more focused on the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

And he wanted the crew, led by engineer Raul Prados and strategist Ron Ruzewski (Penske technical director) to get up to speed as a collective unit and if they were to have slow pit stops, have them here.

When points don’t matter but the pursuit of a third Indianapolis 500 victory is present, using the Grand Prix as a tune-up act was all that mattered to the generally matter-of-fact Montoya, who remains one of the best quotes in the series.

The 1999 CART champion and past winner in both Formula 1 and NASCAR’s day was undone more than anything by struggles with the Firestone red alternate tires. Montoya, who hailed them in qualifying, said they weren’t as good for his car in race conditions.

“It wasn’t grip really. It was, I think the tires cut to chords, at least two sets of reds did. They went too early,” Montoya told NBC Sports post-race.

“It’s sad because we had a great car. We were stuck behind Josef (Newgarden). I was quicker than him. I was biding my time. I wasn’t even pushing or spinning tires. But two out of three sets on reds I think ended up on chords.”

The odd tire situation for Montoya’s car – consider Firestone is almost never adjudged to have issues within IndyCar – stunted progress but again, with the result largely irrelevant as he’s not in the championship battle, it didn’t dampen his spirits.

It just provided a change from the morning warmup.

“We never expected it. Even this morning we had a good amount of understeer. It was so easy to drive,” he said. “When it pushed, we had good speed. But if I pushed too hard within the window without doing anything stupid, say maybe five laps before the end of run I’d lose two to three seconds a lap.

“We made a couple mistakes in the pit stops. Couldn’t get fuel in and lost five to six seconds. Even without that problem we would have finished pretty decent.

“For what we were looking for out of this deal, it was good. It was a good refresher. I’m looking forward to the rest of this month with the Fitzgerald Glider Kit guys and Team Penske.”

And considering he was 33rd and last in last year’s 500 – a bizarre first-to-worst title defense – Montoya has nowhere to go but up starting on Monday.

Montoya makes Fast Six, hits first goal of INDYCAR GP weekend

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INDIANAPOLIS – It was like old times in the post-qualifying Firestone Fast Six press conference, because Juan Pablo Montoya was there cracking jokes and right on pace as if he wasn’t no longer part of the full-time fabric in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Montoya took the No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits to fifth place on the grid for Saturday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix, in what will be his first series start since last season’s finale at Sonoma Raceway in September.

After two tests at Barber and Gateway to get acquainted with what is now the fifth car for Team Penske, Montoya is in one of the better positions for an extra Grand Prix entry in the race’s fourth year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road courses.

To hear him tell it though, fifth was even worse than he could have expected because he still made a lot of mistakes – and is trying to get them out of the way before the rest of the month and the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

“I ran whatever it is, the 68 flat in the second session, I made a couple mistakes, and I thought, ‘I got probably an (67) 80 or something in me, I’m going to give it a go,’ and instead of going faster made a couple mistakes went slower in the first lap, and in the second lap I really nailed the start of the lap and I nailed turn 12 and when I went to Turn 13 spun the tires and bad spun.

“But it’s okay, last time I qualified was September or something last year, so I feel pretty good. Our goal was to make the Fast Six, and we did, and to be honest, we had pace to be second fastest today no problem. I missed it by a tenth and a half, and I made a hundred mistakes in the lap.”

Montoya’s qualifying run came after his first time being able to run on Firestone’s red tires in practice. Per Firestone, the new alternate this weekend is a different compound with similar grip but more heat resistant. Previous to 2017, the first time anyone could run the reds would be in qualifying, not in the last practice session beforehand.

“I thought it was huge. Since I came to IndyCar, three, nearly four years ago, I told them they should do that,” he said. “It’s like, why. Especially you’re giving guys that have done it for a long time a huge advantage. New guys are always going to struggle to get to qualify because the difference in setup is massive. I got an idea this morning of what we needed out of the car, and I think it helps. Even though we screwed up in the first session.”

Montoya said while he wants to do well in this race, he isn’t worried about points or mistakes here. It’s a race situation dress rehearsal for the Indianapolis 500.

The weird thing for Montoya was that when he and Penske agreed to run this race, they didn’t realize the schedule would be so compressed with two practice sessions and a qualifying – an abnormality as part of this race’s two-ay event.

“I’m actually surprised I made it that far in qualifying if you think about it,” he said. “I was hoping — when they said we were going to run the road course, I remember last year you get the open test and you get two hours on Thursday and long sessions, I’m going to have time to build up, and then I looked at the schedule, and it’s two 25-minute sessions. It’s like, okay.

“But it was fun. I mean, you’ve really got to be in the game. I mean, it’s a really busy day. It’s tough because this morning, the track being so cold relative to now, it’s completely different. We’ll see. I think tomorrow if we hit it, we’ll be pretty competitive. If we miss it, then we miss it.

“For us, I mean, anything we do, the laps we do and pits that we do is going to be a bonus for the 500. I’ve got a really experienced group of guys but they haven’t done it in a while, so I think we get the pressure of people just to — I mean, let’s leave the screw-ups this week, know what I mean? That’s what really it’s all about, even myself leaving, I did that pit stop, we were having a bit of issues with the building and stuff, but it still was screwing up. It’s my responsibility.”

Montoya kept coming back to the word fun though. He’d been bantering with Helio Castroneves on the dais and recalling old times.

And the way his schedule works out, doing limited racing this year and being a dad is something he’s embracing. He flies to Europe for two months after the ‘500 because his son Sebastian is running in the European Championship.

“It’s fun because there’s no pressure. I don’t care about the points; know what I mean? I normally don’t really care too much about points anyway, but this time a little less,” he laughed.

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.