IndyCar Driver Review: Juan Pablo Montoya

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MotorSportsTalk continues its driver-by-driver review of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season. In P4 was the man who brought back his A-game upon his open-wheel racing return, Juan Pablo Montoya…


Juan Pablo Montoya

  • Team: Team Penske
  • 2013: NASCAR
  • 2014: 4th Place, 1 Win, 1 Pole, 4 Podiums, 8 Top-5, 9 Top-10, 167 Laps Led, 10.7 Avg. Start, 9.7 Avg. Finish

On the whole, Juan Pablo Montoya’s return to IndyCar after a 14-year hiatus must be considered a massive success. I would have pegged him maybe eighth to 10th in the points preseason, and I wasn’t sure he’d win a race. Fourth, with a win, certainly exceeded my projections and I’m guessing a number of other paddock observers.

For the first time in years, there was a consistently sunny, almost charming disposition about the Colombian compared to the dour, “let’s just get on with it” mentality that seemed to pervade his NASCAR career and waning years in F1. Montoya was energized and revitalized by the challenge of coming back to a series he’d ran roughshod over in 1999 and 2000, and seeing whether he still “had it.”

Quite simply, he did. I knew he was “back” when I saw him trackside at St. Petersburg for the season opener and in practice he caught a loose slide at the same level of laser precision he did when he was on the edge of adhesion in CART, with much higher horsepower cars. His first race back, Montoya qualified only 18th and finished 15th; this proved he still he had some ways to go but was determined to get there.

Rather than throw in the towel and mail it in, Montoya got better and better week-by-week as he came to grips with Firestone’s softer red alternate tires, even if his road and street course qualifying left something to be desired. He led 167 laps from five of the six oval races and scored the most points in the field both on ovals and in double points races (342 and 251, respectively). It was one of his most impressive seasons in a career that has featured so many accolades.

NTT re-signs as IndyCar title sponsor in multiyear deal starting with the 2024 season

James Black/Penske Entertainment

The IndyCar Series has re-signed NTT as its title sponsor in a multiyear agreement starting in 2024.

NTT, a global information technology and communications company based in Japan, became the series’ title sponsor before the 2019 season after starting as a sponsor of the No. 10 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing.

NTT Data (a subsidiary of parent company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.) will remain the official technology partner of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy 500 and the NASCAR Brickyard weekend.

With the extension, an IndyCar spokesman said NTT would become the second-longest title sponsor in series history. The longest title sponsor was PPG from 1980-97 (under the CART sanction of the Champ Car Series).

NTT replaced Verizon, which was IndyCar’s title sponsor from 2014-18 after IZOD from 2010-13.

“NTT is an excellent partner across our enterprise with strong expertise and a deep commitment to our sport,” Penske Corp. chairman and IndyCar owner Roger Penske said in a release. “From Smart Venue technology at the Racing Capital of the World to the reimagined Series mobile application, NTT is transforming the fan experience in new and innovative ways. We look forward to a bright future together.”

NTT has used artificial intelligence-enabled optical detection technology at IMS to provide information to the track’s operations and security teams, helping improve fan traffic flow and safety, the track said.

“IndyCar is a great partner for NTT Data because of our shared commitment to driving innovation, increasing sustainability and delivering amazing experiences,” NTT Data CEO Kaz Nishihata said in a release. “We also appreciate how IndyCar is so diverse, with drivers from 15 different countries, and races that range from short ovals and superspeedways to road and street courses. It’s both an incredible sport and a wonderful example for our world.”

NTT also has been instrumental in helping redesign the IndyCar app and providing more race and driver data for use in NBC Sports’ broadcasts by utilizing 140 data points from every car in the field.

“NTT is fully invested in the development and growth of our sport and has already established a terrific track record in our industry with problem-solving capabilities and access to top talent and tools,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said.

Said NTT Data Services CEO Bob Pryor: “We’re thrilled to continue our collaborations that enhance and expand the fan experience for motorsports and serve as proof points for data analytics, AI, and other innovative digital technologies. For more than a century, this racing series has pioneered innovations making driving safer for everyone, and by continuing this relationship, we will accelerate the pace of innovations and new technologies, particularly related to sustainability that ultimately can benefit organizations, communities and individuals around the world.”

Starting as a Japanese telephone company, NTT grew into a $100 billion-plus tech services giant with U.S. operations based in Plano, Texas.