Montoya praises IndyCar’s “ballsy” call to run in rain; seeks second win Sunday


AVONDALE, La. – The Verizon P1 Award in Round 2 after a win in Round 1 makes for the best possible start to the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season for Juan Pablo Montoya, even if today didn’t follow a traditional script.

Montoya will start on pole for Sunday’s inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) due to qualifying being canceled following intermittent rain.

Post-qualifying, Montoya reflected on a career that has enjoyed its fair share of success in rain races, and acknowledged how he was almost a bit lucky to get the pole today due to the cancellation.

“I think IndyCar did a great job today making an effort to run the qualifying,” Montoya said. “I think that was a ballsy call, and I think that’s what it takes. I think it was great.”

Montoya survived a brief spin at the end of his group in qualifying, but as it happened right when the checkered flag fell, he didn’t bring out a red flag and incur a penalty.

“To be honest with you, after I spun, when they were bringing me back and they found more water already from those two minutes, it was incredible how much more water was sitting. I don’t know how much this is going to last, and it kind of gave me a bit of a smile, but it is what it is.”

Montoya described the visibility level on the NOLA Motorsports Park circuit, compared to other road or street courses he’s raced on.

“Normally there are a lot of reference points, and you normally look to the side of the track,” he explained. “Instead of forward, you guide yourself from the side. But that’s kind of normal in an open wheel.

“The hard thing is it’s hard because you haven’t driven enough on the wet. You don’t know where the markers are, and you don’t know if the guy in qualifying that first stop, did the guy lift it or keep it wide open?

“In street courses the speeds are so much slower, the water it’s not as bad,” he added. “You saw it get a little on the straight but it’s not as bad because, I mean, you’re going too slow.

“Like Toronto last year in the long straight you couldn’t see anything. Like zero. You go wide open, and you’re just going through the gears, just, hmm hmm. Now I think I’ll start getting on the gas maybe here. That’s how you do it. At least this is how I do it.”

It remains to be seen how the race will run in the rain, if it rains; Montoya thinks it will be possible to run in heavier rain than people realize.

“I think you can run in more water than they think they can. It would be really slow, but everybody will be really slow,” he said. “I mean, if you know there is a big puddle and you need to slow down, if not you’re going to aquaplane, well, then you slow down. You know what I mean? You’ve just got to know how far you can go.

“Normally I’m really good in the rain. Today we struggled, but, I mean, it is what it is. You know, we kind of think we know what happened, and we made a change on the basis of what happened. How you’re thinking it’s going to be good here, and it wasn’t. But, you know, I’m a big boy. I’ll take it as it is.”