Juan Pablo Montoya’s fifth place marks for nice Indy 500 return

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Much like AJ Allmendinger last year, Team Penske’s third car – in this case, the No. 2 Penske Motorsports entry driven by Juan Pablo Montoya – was a factor throughout much of the Indianapolis 500 even if the ultimate result didn’t match the form shown throughout the race.

JPM’s ‘500 return to the Brickyard for the first time since his 2000 win was pretty much going according to plan for the first 132 laps. Montoya, in the No. 2 Verizon Chevrolet, led three times for 16 laps as on each of the first four pit stop sequences, he was able to run several laps longer than his competitors after good fuel saving runs.

But his strategy was foiled when after his Lap 131 pit stop, his fourth of the day, he got called for a pit road speeding violation. It was an ignominious matching of something he did in the 2009 Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, which he dominated but lost due to that call.

Sunday, Montoya admitted to making a mistake that cost him the time. Interestingly it was a pit stop that cost Allmendinger last year, when his seat belts came loose.

“Unfortunately I made a mistake on one of the pit stops when I was resetting the fuel. I pressed the wrong button,” Montoya said. “We got a penalty for that but we came back. I was proud of the way we fought.”

Montoya dropped back into the mid-teens thereafter but recovered to fifth after the final 51 laps featured five cautions for 21 laps, and a host of those in front of him self-destructed.

But come back he did, and fifth after his first Indianapolis 500 in 14 years was a decent result on its own.

Pure Penske material? Perhaps not, but a definite “make the most of what you got”-type result.

“I don’t think we had anything for (Ryan) Hunter-Reay or Helio (Castroneves),” he said. “It was cool to watch them swap the lead back and forth in the final laps. I had a good seat for it. We just had too much understeer in traffic.”

The result is Montoya’s second top-five finish in his full-season Verizon IndyCar Series return. After his 13th-place qualifying last Saturday (21 points) and ultimate 10th-place start for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, JPM added 61 more to his name Sunday (30 for a standard fifth, doubled to 60, plus 1 for leading a lap) and is now seventh in the points.

Teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves are second and third.

Who has the best odds of winning Sunday’s Indianapolis 500?

Can Takuma Sato make it 2 Indy 500 wins in a row Sunday? Photo: IndyCar
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Noted oddsmaker Bovada (www.Bovada.lv) has released its annual list of which drivers have the best — or worst — odds of winning Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Topping the list is 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi at 8/1 odds, followed closely by Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves (going for a record-tying fourth 500 triumph), 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden and Will Power, all at 10/1 odds.

Other notables include:

  • Pole sitter Ed Carpenter 12/1
  • Danica Patrick 25/1
  • Defending 500 winner Takuma Sato, who is vying to become the first back-to-back winner since Helio Castroneves did so in 2001 and 2002, 30/1
  • Rounding out the list with the highest odds of winning is Max Chilton at 25/1

Here’s the full list:

Indianapolis 500 – Odds to Win @ Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Alexander Rossi #27                  8/1

Helio Castroneves #3                 10/1

Josef Newgarden #1                  10/1

Will Power #12                          10/1

Sebastien Bourdais #18             12/1

Ed Carpenter #20                      12/1

Scott Dixon #9                          12/1

Ryan Hunter-Reay #28               12/1

Simon Pagenaud #22                12/1

Marco Andretti #98                    15/1

Tony Kanaan #14                       15/1

Sage Karam #24                        20/1

Carlos Munoz #29                      25/1

Danica Patrick #13                    25/1

Graham Rahal #15                     30/1

Takuma Sato #30                      30/1

Robert Wickens #6                    30/1

Gabby Chaves #88                    40/1

JR Hildebrand #66                     40/1

Ed Jones #10                            40/1

Charlie Kimball #23                    40/1

Spencer Pigot #21                     40/1

Zach Veach #26                        40/1

Stefan Wilson #25                     40/1

Zachary Claman De Melo #19     80/1

Jay Howard #7                          80/1

Matheus Leist #4                       80/1

Jack Harvery #60                       100/1

Oriol Servia #64                         100/1

Conor Daly #17                         150/1

James Davison #33                   200/1

Kyle Kaiser #32                         200/1

Max Chilton #59                        250/1