INDIANAPOLIS – Juan Pablo Montoya banked his first road course Firestone Fast Six appearance since his return to the Verizon IndyCar Series on Friday, and in Saturday’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, he followed it up with his third podium of the season.
More importantly, he retains the series points lead heading into the rest of the month of May. He has 171 points, with race winner Will Power on 166 and Helio Castroneves on 161.
Given Montoya’s weakness, relatively speaking, on road and street courses this year, he’s rather pleased about the fact he’s come through the opening five rounds on road and street courses leading the pack.
“It’s exciting, to be honest,” Montoya said. “My goal this year was not to lose that many points coming to Indy. I know our strong part of the season should be the ovals, you know what I mean, some of the road courses. I was looking forward to not be that far behind because I know once the ovals start I can make up some points.
“Having the points coming into Indy, it’s encouraging. We were fastest in the open test. The car felt really good, too. I’m pretty happy.”
Montoya started fourth and was lucky to avoid the first corner fracas off the start of the race.
He addressed one question about the run to Turn 1 and basically said “we should have knew this was coming” off a rolling start rather than a standing start, as it was last year.
“It’s the start of the race. Get over it. You know what I mean?” Montoya said. “You put us on the longest straight you can think of, you put a first-gear corner at the end of it, what do you think is going to happen? We’re not that smart (laughter).”
But he added of the day itself, “Yeah, it was good. I mean, we ran good all day. We pushed really hard.
“I got behind a little bit at the start. Behind but not behind. I was on the outside. There was really nowhere to go. (Scott) Dixon spun in front of me. I avoided that. I thought that was really good. It was really good I didn’t get tangled with anybody. But we lost three places.
“Made it tough because you’re behind. Our first pit stop, we had a problem with the right front, so we lost little bit of ground. I stayed behind Simon and Bourdais, made it a little tough. But after that, you know, the next one I passed them. Rahal was the one I didn’t manage to get. I thought we had the same pace.”
Montoya addressed traffic as well during the post-race presser, specifically Barber winner Josef Newgarden who through no fault of his own was stuck in-between Power and either or both of Graham Rahal and Montoya most of the race.
“Even if there was no rules, if you’re more than one lap down, you shouldn’t be getting in the way of the leaders.” Montoya said.
“The guy won last week. He should know better. If they did it to him last week, he lost the race because of that, he would have been crying and moaning.”
At least Montoya wasn’t, and at one point during the press conference noting Rahal’s own ire at Newgarden, he laughed off the fact he wasn’t the most frustrated man in the room.
“Glad somebody is more pissed off than me,” said the points leader.