He’s baaack — maybe: Juan Pablo Montoya may run NASCAR’s Brickyard 400

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When Juan Pablo Montoya left NASCAR at the end of last season, he left with some unfinished business – particularly at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

While Montoya will once again race at the fabled Brickyard in his new IndyCar ride for Penske Racing in May, he still hasn’t gotten over how he came close to twice winning NASCAR’s Brickyard 400, only to fall short each time.

If NASCAR drivers Kurt Busch and AJ Allmendinger can jump series to potentially race in this year’s Indy 500 (and then later that same day in NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600), why can’t an IndyCar/former Sprint Cup driver go back in time for at least one race, as well?

In an IndyCar press conference in Orlando, Montoya said he’s entertaining thoughts about potentially coming back and racing in this year’s Brickyard 400.

If he does, it would likely be for team owner Roger Penske, and not a return one-off for former NASCAR boss Chip Ganassi. With only a two-car Sprint Cup team, Penske has the room to add Montoya for the Brickyard.

“I think the Brickyard would be a good thing,” Montoya said. “I’ve been so close so many times, it would be a good way of closing that chapter with a good win there. I know Roger hasn’t won there. If we could get the opportunity to do it, I think it would be pretty cool.”

So since he was on the topic of running at the Brickyard, Montoya was asked if he’d entertain perhaps adding one other Cup race to his dance card this season – running both the Indianapolis 500 in his Indy car, hop on a plane to Concord, N.C., and then compete in NASCAR’s longest race of the season, the Coca-Cola 600, that evening. Heck, he might even be able to share the flight with Busch and Allmendinger.

“No, unless Roger asks me,” Montoya said.

Would JPM ask Penske to do the proverbial “double?”

“No, I got enough things going on,” Montoya said before breaking into a laugh and adding, “No, no, no, no, no.”

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Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Andretti Autosport James Hinchcliffe
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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

VEACH OUT: Driver elects to vacate seat for rest of season

“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”