The week that was for Juan Pablo Montoya

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FORT WORTH – He doesn’t recall much about that week.

You can forgive him for that, it was 15 years and three installments of Mission: Impossible films ago.

Besides, once you win your first Indianapolis 500 at the age of 24, nothing in the week that follows could leave much of a lasting impression. Unless…

“To tell you the truth I don’t even remember,” said Juan Pablo Montoya, winner of the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 and not so long ago, the 84th running in 2000.

“The only thing I remember, I went to do (David) Letterman and I threw the first pitch at the Yankees’ game and I sucked at it.”

What will he remember about this week, 15 years from now?

There’s no Letterman. His win came four days too late for that.

After the initial three hours, will he remember any of the 13, seven-minute post-race interviews conducted with TV stations from seven U.S. cities and multiple countries and languages?

Will he remember the 7:15 a.m. interview on Monday with SiriusXM’s “Morning Drive with Mike Bagley and Pete Pistone?”

Or the 8:30 a.m. RACER Magazine cover shoot on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s frontstretch and the 13 media obligations that followed?

What about Tuesday in New York City, 103 miles from a track IndyCar will visit this year?

There was Good Morning America at 7:45 a.m. ET, then Telemundo, USA Today and lunch with Forbes, all before noon.

Will he have any memory of apologizing to Rich Eisen at 12:30 p.m. for his hoarse voice, a result of screaming in his helmet as his No. 2 Chevrolet soared into Turn 1 as 200,000 fans screamed for him?

On Wednesday at 6:32 p.m, CT, he stood surrounded by media members at Joe T. Garcia’s restaurant in Forth Worth following his grand entrance with a 3,000-pound longhorn steer named Rojo.

This is what Montoya remembered of the preceding three days.

“In a way, (it’s been) really cool and in way, hell,” Montoya said in his hoarse voice. “Honestly, you think you’re going to win the race and you’re going to celebrate.”

His morning had started early. His wife, Connie, woke him in their room at the Ink48 hotel, believing their 6 a.m. wake up call and breakfast had arrived.

Montoya rose, turned on the lights and opened the door. No breakfast. A clock informed Montoya it was 4:30 a.m.

He went back to bed.

A little more than 12 hours later, after ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, more interviews and a delay on the airport tarmac that left him two hours late, the 2015 winner of the Indianapolis 500 was finally honored in Fort Worth.

A race in Detroit and even more questions about the preceding week awaited. But now, at 7:10 p.m. CT, Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage and others toast Montoya with half-filled plastic cups of white liquid.

“Tastes like Sunday, doesn’t it?” Gossage asks.

“It tastes like milk.”

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.