Despite early exit, Montoya survives potential points hit with three races to go (VIDEO)


A Lap 10 crash in Saturday night’s Iowa Corn 300 looked set to severely dent, if not crush, Juan Pablo Montoya’s 54-point lead in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

But the Colombian survived more than seemed possible after his rivals seemed to get lost searching for points and results in the Iowa cornfields.

Scott Dixon, who started fourth, entered the race second in points and was well positioned to gain on Montoya when he went out.

But his day was compromised with a mechanical issue that sent him to the garage on Lap 234. It took what was a likely podium finish out of play, although his Chip Ganassi Racing crew performed a minor miracle to get him back out by Lap 269.

Dixon looked set to end 19th, which became 18th when he passed the retired Takuma Sato with three laps remaining. If Dixon wins the title by one point, this will be the reason why.

Next up in the title contender roller coaster was Helio Castroneves, who entered the race weekend tied for third with Graham Rahal but moved one point ahead after scoring the pole position earlier on Saturday.

Castroneves faded as the race went on, only leading in the middle stint after a dice with Josef Newgarden, who led a race-high 111 laps.

He did not take tires ahead of the final restart and fell behind Rahal, Will Power, Marco Andretti and Ryan Briscoe, all of whom did, by the finish. Castroneves finished 11th.

Rahal’s was a day of recovery after starting 17th. A flat tire prompted an unscheduled pit stop, and knocked him two laps down early. But for his benefit, the first pit stop cycle completed under green, which allowed Rahal to get back on the lead lap.

Rahal lost a lap again on another yellow flag period when a persistent shifting issue kept him in the pits longer than planned. Race leader Newgarden trapped him a lap down.

But through another cycle Rahal got back on the lead lap, even with the shifting issues continuing. Takuma Sato’s crash left Rahal out front in the final 35 laps before pitting for the final time.

With fresh tires, Rahal recovered to fourth, and actually made the most headway on Montoya in points. Rahal gained 25 points and is now 42 back of Montoya, now into second.

Will Power failed to make much headway himself, ending an anonymous 10th. He’s within 55 points now, but still more than a race distance back.

All told, things could have been a lot worse for Montoya after his disaster in Iowa.

Roger Penske discusses flying tire at Indy 500 with Dallara executives: ‘We’ve got to fix that’


INDIANAPOLIS – Roger Penske spoke with Dallara executives Monday morning about the loose tire that went flying over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway catchfence and into a Turn 2 parking lot.

The left-rear wheel from Kyle Kirkwood’s No. 27 Dallara-Honda was sheared off in a collision at speed as Kirkwood tried to avoid the skidding No. 6 Dallara-Chevrolet of Felix Rosenqvist on Lap 183 of the 107th Indianapolis 500.

No one seriously was hurt in the incident (including Kirkwood, whose car went upside down and slid for several hundred feet), though an Indianapolis woman’s Chevy Cruze was struck by the tire. The Indy Star reported a fan was seen and released from the care center after sustaining minor injuries from flying debris in the crash.

During a photo shoot Monday morning with Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden at the IMS Yard of Bricks, Penske met with Dallara founder and owner Gian Paolo Dallara and Dallara USA CEO Stefano dePonti. The Italian company has been the exclusive supplier of the current DW12 chassis to the NTT IndyCar series for 11 years.

“The good news is we didn’t have real trouble with that tire going out (of the track),” Penske, who bought Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2020, told a few reporters shortly afterward. “I saw it hit. When it went out, I saw we were OK. I talked to the Dallara guys today. We’re going to look at that, but I guess the shear (force) from when (Rosenqvist’s) car was sitting, (Kirkwood’s car) went over and just that shear force tore that tether. Because we have tethers on there, and I’ve never seen a wheel come off.

“That to me was probably the scariest thing. We’ve got to fix that. We’ve got to fix that so that doesn’t happen again.”

Asked by NBC Sports if IndyCar would be able to address it before Sunday’s Detroit Grand Prix or before the next oval race at Iowa Speedway, Penske said, “The technical guys should look at it. I think the speed here, a couple of hundred (mph) when you hit it vs. 80 or 90 or whatever it might be, but that was a pinch point on the race.”

In a statement released Monday to WTHR and other media outlets, IndyCar said that it was “in possession of the tire in Sunday’s incident and found that the tether did not fail. This is an isolated incident, and the series is reviewing to make sure it does not happen again. IndyCar takes the safety of the drivers and fans very seriously. We are pleased and thankful that no one was hurt.”

IndyCar provided no further explanation for how the wheel was separated from the car without the tether failing.

IndyCar began mandating wheel suspension tethers using high-performance Zylon material after a flying tire killed three fans at Charlotte Motor Speedway during a May 1, 1999 race. Three fans also were struck and killed by a tire at Michigan International Speedway during a July 26, 1998 race.

The IndyCar tethers can withstand a force of more than 22,000 pounds, and the rear wheel tethers were strengthened before the 2023 season.