Juan Pablo Montoya earns first open-wheel podium showing since 2006, finishes third in Firestone 600 at Texas

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Juan Pablo Montoya earned his first podium appearance since returning to the IndyCar Series this season, finishing third in Saturday’s Firestone 600 IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Montoya’s best season finish to date — and his first open-wheel podium finish since being runner-up in the 2006 Formula One Monaco Grand Prix — adds to his fourth-place showing earlier in the year at Long Beach and his fifth-place result in the Indianapolis 500.

Montoya’s driving prompted former IndyCar driver turned NBC analyst Paul Tracy even went so far as to claim the old JPM is back.

While Montoya won’t go that far, he definitely is continuing to shake off some of the rust after seven seasons in NASCAR.

“We’re getting better, we’re getting there,” Montoya said. “I was kind of pissed off at that restart because you expect them to go in a zone, and that’s why they have the zone, and then when they don’t respect it, it’s kinda unfair.”

Montoya was talking about IndyCar’s decision to do away with double file restarts for the remainder of the season, beginning in Saturday night’s race.

“What’s the rule? If you’re going to let them restart anywhere, then don’t put the cones (indicating an acceleration zone leading to the start/finish line to assure cars are all single-file when the green flag drops and no car is able to get an unfair jump on the restart),” Montoya said. “It’s like NASCAR, if you have two lines, then you have to respect them. Hopefully, they (IndyCar officials) really look at it because it was a bit of a joke.”

What wasn’t a joke was Montoya’s finish. He didn’t have enough to catch winner Ed Carpenter, but he gave Team Penske teammate Will Power a run for his money until Power shot by on the final lap to take second away from Montoya.

“They said pit and then they said do whatever the leader does,” Montoya said. “So I did what the leader did (and stayed on the track instead of pitting for tires like Power did). It’s one of those cautions.

“Overall, I think our car was amazing today. Everybody at Team Penske did an amazing job. We had a flat tire right at the beginning, and to drive through the field, that was fun.”

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