Montoya’s evolution evident after statement victory in St. Pete


ST. PETERSBURG – On a weekend when drivers with experience dating back to the 1990s or early-to-mid 2000s seemed to dominate, one somewhat unlikely driver stood above them all Sunday in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg: Juan Pablo Montoya.

It’s not that Montoya wasn’t expected to be a factor, but the storylines at Team Penske heading into the season-opening weekend of the Verizon IndyCar Series season centered around his three teammates.

Will Power is the defending champion. Longtime rival Simon Pagenaud had joined up in a new fourth car. Helio Castroneves was in the news earlier in the weekend for a partner extension for Hitachi.

So Montoya almost flew in under the radar heading into Sunday’s race, but delivered the win courtesy of an excellent middle stint on Firestone’s primary black tires, and a perfect defense against Power’s one passing attempt at Turn 10 on Lap 99.

Post-race, the story centered on the evolution of the man almost as much as the evolution of the day’s events itself.

Montoya swept through the IndyCar paddock like a ridiculously strong Colombian cup of coffee in 1999 and 2000.

He took no prisoners. He was fast, he kicked ass, and you dealt with it. But he wasn’t necessarily the most personable driver.

Then he went to Formula 1, NASCAR and came back to IndyCar.

Today, in St. Petersburg, he took the immediate moments after the win to celebrate with the fans in victory lane.

“I’ve never been a big believer what people say about me, to be honest,” Montoya said in the post-race press conference. “As long as I feel I’m doing a really good job, I’m driving the wheels off the car, the people I drive for are happy, that’s all that really matters.

“Do I pay maybe a little more attention to the fans? Yeah, I would say I do. When you’re out there, I’m still the same… if you want to call me the ‘asshole,’ whatever you want to call it… it’s good. You said ‘jerk,’ so that’s pretty close.”

Tony Kanaan, who finished third and raced against Montoya in those 1999 and 2000 CART seasons – and actually won his first race against JPM at Michigan International Speedway in 1999 – said age has mellowed JPM, but hasn’t affected his driving.

“Let’s not call him old because I’m older than him,” said Kanaan, who turned 40 in December, while Montoya turns 40 in September 2015.

“Honestly, what I like about him, I don’t think he changes his personality. But we all grow up. We have kids. I think we kind of change a little bit in a way.

“So, yes, seeing Juan celebrating with the fans the way he did today, I can assure that wouldn’t have happened 15 years ago. But that was Juan back then. I think you go through experiences in life to learn.

“I can still see the old Juan sometimes on him, which it’s great to see. Juan is a good guy to have beside you, not against you. That’s the way I put it. That’s still there.”

As for Montoya behind the wheel, he reflected on how far he’s come back in IndyCar from 12 months ago. Although his trademark car control was there, he didn’t have the outright pace this race in 2014 – he qualified 18th and finished 15th.

“It’s exciting. Last year was very disappointing,” Montoya said. “It was tough not only here but generally on the street courses. I’m a guy that always excelled at street courses everywhere I raced. To come here and have a year with really bad street course racing, it was pretty tough. I was never happy with the car.

“You know, with my engineers, we decided to go in a completely different way the than the other guys. It paid off. My pace on black tires was pretty, pretty good.”

Montoya said it was his stint on the blacks that won him the race, but he said he still has more to learn on the red alternate tires.

“I mean, I still feel I didn’t do a good enough job in qualifying,” said Montoya, who qualified fourth. “I felt I left a lot out there. I don’t know. It’s a building process.

“But I’ll tell you, I was amazed how quick we were today, especially on black tires. I mean, I had as good of pace as the reds, but more consistent. That was pretty exciting.”

What’s the scary part for the rest of the field?

If Montoya is this good, this early, and still self-reflective enough to know what he still has to learn and improve upon, 2015 could be a long year for his rivals.

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Detroit


The focus of the Detroit Monster Energy Supercross round was on the mid-pack battle while Aaron Plessinger pulled away from the field, but when he crashed after hooking his foot in the dirt, the results once more looked like we’ve come to expect, with Chase Sexton, Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac sharing the podium for the fifth time in 10 rounds.

Supercross Results Detroit
Justin Barcia was part of an exciting, four-rider battle in the middle of Detroit’s A-Main. – Feld Motor Sports

For Sexton, Plessinger’s late-race crash was a vindication of sorts. Several times already this season, Sexton has crashed while battling for the lead and the points that has cost him keeps him sporting the red plate. He lost points in Detroit for a different reason, however.

Sexton was allowed to keep the win, but was penalized seven points for jumping in a red cross section of the course. As a result, he dropped four points to Webb and two to Tomac. Sexton is now 17 points behind Webb in the championship hunt.

RESULTS: Click here for full 450 Overall Results; Click here for 250 Overall Results

One week after snatching the red plate from Tomac for the first time in 2023, Webb stretched his advantage by two. With his second-place finish, Webb holds a three-point lead over Tomac, which essentially means both riders control their fate in the coming weeks. Webb continues to have a sweep of the top five this season with his sixth consecutive podium.

Coming off his worst finish of the season, Tomac rebounded to finish third. His eighth-place result last week was partially attributed to a stiff neck that hindered him in traffic and he still suffered some of those same effects in Detroit. Before Plessinger’s crash, he was destined to be the only rider in the three-man title scrum to finish off the podium in Detroit.

It is surprising what one position can do for one’s confidence.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier | Lap Chart

Justin Barcia scored his fourth top-five of the season. He was part of the exciting four-man battle that dominated the middle stages of the race before Sexton and Webb gained a little separation. Finishing less than three seconds behind Tomac, he kept that rider honest for the entire race.

Coming off his first win of the season, Ken Roczen finished fifth. It was his seventh top-five of the season and it elevated him to fifth in the standings.

Plessinger’s fall took the wind from his sails. He attempted to right his bike after a hard crash, but as it smoked and pinged, he dropped to 13th in the final rundown.

Click here for 450 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

Hunter Lawrence tied his brother Jett Lawrence with 10 wins each after another dominating ride in the Detroit Supercross race and the results in the points continue to widen. With his fifth win in six rounds and a worst finish of third, Lawrence now has a 35-point advantage over Nate Thrasher with four rounds remaining. Finishes of 14th or better in the final four mains will give him his first 250 championship.

Supercross Results Detroit
Strong starts have been one of the keys to Hunter Lawrence’s success in 2023. – Feld Motor Sports

Jett will have an opportunity to retake his wins’ lead as Supercross heads west for the next two rounds in Seattle and Glendale, Arizona.

Nate Thrasher earned his third second-place finish of the season with a gap of 7.6 seconds to Lawrence. He won the overall in Arlington earlier this season, but a 15th-place finish in the opening round in Houston and 10th in Daytona hurts his championship chances.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier | Lap Chart

Haiden Deegan scored his second podium and fourth top-five in six rounds of his young career. On his way to that finish, he rode aggressively against his teammate Jordon Smith in the heat race. Fans are getting a glimpse of what his on-track personality might be.

Jeremy Martin continues to be the model of consistency. He has not finished worse than sixth or better than fourth in six rounds now and that has allowed him to close to within two points of third in the 250 East championship standings.

Rounding out the top five is Chris Blose, who was pressed into service at the start of the season because of a rash of injuries at Pro Circuit Kawasaki. This is Blose’s first top-five of the season, although he’s steadily improved over the past five rounds.

Click here for 250 Overall results | 250 East Rider Points | 250 Combined Rider Points

Max Anstie entered the race weekend second in the points, but a hard crash in heavy traffic early in the main forced him to retire after two laps. Earning only one point for the round, he plummeted to fifth in the standings.

The news was worse for Smith, who was dropped out of the top nine in his heat after the altercation with Deegan and failed to advance through the LCQ. In the last chance race, he stalled his engine and had to mount a determined charge. He got only as high as seventh in that race after crashing while attempting to make a pass on fourth-place Jack Chambers.

2023 Results

Round 10: Chace Sexton wins, penalized
Round 9: Ken Roczen wins
Round 8: Eli Tomac wins 7th Daytona
Round 7: Cooper Webb wins second race
Race 6: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Race 5: Webb, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 4: Tomac, H Lawrence win
Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Tomac, J Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, J Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 8: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
Week 7: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
Week 6: Perfect Oakland night keeps Tomac first
Week 5: Cooper Webb, Sexton close gap
Week 4: Tomac retakes lead
Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Sexton falls
Week 1: Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s