IndyCar: Montoya stymied late by lapped traffic, finishes 2nd in Milwaukee

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Traffic is always a challenge to deal with at the Milwaukee Mile, and so it went again for Juan Pablo Montoya in today’s ABC Supply Wisconsin 250.

Montoya last pitted on Lap 192 of 250, and moved past Josef Newgarden for second behind Team Penske teammate Will Power with less than 50 laps to go.

As Power and Montoya started to encounter the backmarkers, Power’s advantage dwindled to less than one second. But over the final stretch, the Australian was able to more deftly move past the slower cars.

Meanwhile, Montoya couldn’t make any progress in the traffic and eventually had to settle for runner-up honors behind Power, who claimed his third win of the season.

“It’s just hard. These cars are so aero-sensitive and here, it’s just one line, so you’re kinda screwed,” Montoya told NBCSN after his fourth podium finish of the year. “We struggled with our stability early in the race, but everybody on this PPG Chevy today did a good job.”

Montoya certainly put on a veteran performance, but he also may have gotten a bit of luck as well.

On Lap 60, he came in for his first stop but entered his pit box sideways and hit a left front tire. However, instead of penalizing Montoya, Race Control merely gave the Colombian a warning.

Afterwards, Montoya recognized his error in the pits.

“I just came in a little too hot,” he said.

But Montoya managed to recover and also stay mathematically in the hunt for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship – albeit at a sizable gap of 114 points behind Power with two races to go.

Power’s win and Helio Castroneves’ 11th-place finish helped Power push his lead to 39 points over the Brazilian. When asked which one of his Penske teammates had the edge, Montoya tried not to choose sides.

“[Power] deserves it, but Helio deserves the championship as well,” he said. “Both have been really close and both have had a bit of heartbreak.

“It’s hard to say which one, but you know, Will’s doing what it takes right now to win the championship.”

Tony Kanaan says his message of IndyCar-NASCAR unity aimed at fans

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Over a 22-year IndyCar career featuring its share of adversity, Tony Kanaan has learned to embrace trying to find the positives in a negative situation.

He believes NASCAR and IndyCar will find a tiny silver lining from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The series will race together at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course in a July 4 doubleheader, which he believes sends a message of unity he’d like to see from the world during this dark period.

“It’s time to send that message (of unity),” Kanaan told “Happy Hours” hosts Kevin Harvick and Matt Yocum in a Wednesday afternoon interview on SiriusXM’s NASCAR Channel. “If we don’t come out of this situation as better people, globally, in every way, shape or form … it’s just being kind to people. Hopefully, we’ll be sending the right messages, doing radio shows together, doing live on Instagram together, doing races together.

ON NBCSN: IndyCar at virtual Barber Motorsports Park, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

MORE: Jimmie Johnson wants to run IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader

“I was bugging Jimmie Johnson to say, ‘Can I be a guest in NASCAR on iRacing?’ I think the misperception, and probably a little our fault as well, is that people don’t know how (IndyCar and NASCAR drivers) respect each and how we think each other’s jobs are so cool.”

It was Kanaan’s comment last week that “it’s not us and them. It is the motorsports world’ that prompted Harvick to ask the 2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner about his views on past IndyCar and NASCAR divisions.

Harvick noted that “over the years, IndyCar and NASCAR have that separate stigma as far as the fans, but the racers in the middle, we talk with each other. We’re just racers. I think it’s absolutely great” the doubleheader will happen.

Kanaan said he felt it was the right message to send because of the fans. “For drivers, I don’t think we ever thought of it that way,” he said. “We always respected each other and thought each other’s jobs were cool. That tweet was for our fans who say, ‘Those cars are too fast. Those cars are too slow.’ It’s time for us to stop. It’s a racing family.

“For people who don’t understand about racing, any race car is cool. Doesn’t matter if it’s a go kart, a sprint car, a  Cup car, it doesn’t matter. … The situation, we’re in, we’re all equal. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. We’re all in the same boat now. We can’t do what we love. It just clicked. I said it’s time to send that message. Hopefully this will be the end for ‘you guys and us’ for the fans. For drivers, I don’t think we ever thought of it that way.”

The GMR IndyCar Grand Prix is scheduled to be run July 4 on the IMS road course ahead of the Xfinity race, which will mean that the NTT Series’ Firestone rubber will be on the asphalt before the Goodyears of NASCAR hit the track.

Recalling a NASCAR test many years ago at Nazareth Speedway when he turned laps a second faster because there’d been an IndyCar race the previous day, Harvick asked Kanaan whether the varying tire compounds might present a challenge.

“I don’t there is a solution for that,” Kanaan said. “It’s part of the job, and we need to realize that you guys run different tires. We run softer tires. It’s no different than (IndyCar) racing with the trucks at Texas. It’s probably harder on an oval than a road course.

“But I like it. It’s part of the challenge and makes the race weekend more interesting, the people who can manage that as well.”

Even though he is sidelined, Kanaan still will stay busy this weekend, racing in Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. IndyCar iRacing Challenge event at virtual Barber Motorsports Park on NBCSN. He will be tuning in Sunday at 1 p.m. on Fox and FS1 as NASCAR hits Bristol Motor Speedway.

“Last Sunday I had my alarm set for 12:40 p.m., because at 1 o’clock (NASCAR was) on,” Kanaan said with a laugh. “I told (wife) Lauren, ‘Let’s turn the TV on and watch the NASCAR race!’ I was excited, and it wasn’t even real. She’s like, ‘Man, look at you … I said, ‘That’s what we got.’ It’s been a weird year.”

Harvick also will be racing Sunday, having recently joined Kanaan in installing a new racing simulator at home.

“Let’s do this Kevin: Come do an IndyCar race on iRacing,” Kanaan said. “I’ll do NASCAR. Now that you have a sim. What do you think?”

“Well, I’ll have to go to my 7-year-old to figure out how to drive it fast,” Harvick said.

“He’s been practicing. I’m really good at crashing.”