Montoya: “It’s going to be special to go back to Pocono”

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Juan Pablo Montoya has been something of a 500-mile master throughout his North American open-wheel career.

Yet heading into this weekend’s ABC Supply 500, it’s not so much preserving the historical stats record, but mainly hanging onto his points lead, which he has held for the entirety of the season.

“It’s unfortunate that we have given back some points over the last few races,” Montoya said in the team’s pre-race advance. “Our results at Iowa and Mid-Ohio weren’t anything that we could control. The No. 2 Verizon Chevy team gave me good cars and we had ourselves in decent positions to have good finishes.

“At Iowa, we went out of the race early but we were starting in the top five and had the speed to contend for the win. At Mid-Ohio, the race was playing out perfectly for us until the last caution.”

For Montoya, returning to Pocono is a return to the place where he repaid Roger Penske’s trust in him to race IndyCar.

“It is what it is, but we know that we can go to Pocono and win the race. It’s going to be very special to go back there as the defending winner and to the place where we were able to validate Roger’s (Penske) belief that I could come back over to the Verizon IndyCar Series and win after being away for so long.”

The stats below tell you how and why Montoya has dominated in 500-mile races:

 Race Start Finish Laps Completed Led
1999 U.S. 500 – Michigan International Speedway 3rd 2nd 250/250 28
1999 Marlboro 500 – Auto Club Speedway 3rd 4th 250/250 13
2000 Indianapolis 500 2nd WIN 200/200 167
2000 U.S. 500 – Michigan International Speedway 7th WIN 250/250 39
2000 Marlboro 500 – Auto Club Speedway 5th 10th (blown engine) 219/250 33
2014 Indianapolis 500 10th 5th 200/200 16
2014 Pocono 500 1st WIN 200/200 45
2014 MAVTV 500 – Auto Club Speedway 2nd 4th 250/250 85
2015 Indianapolis 500 15th WIN 200/200 9
2015 MAVTV 500 – Auto Club Speedway 5th 4th 250/250 5
Avg. Start 5.3 Avg. Finish 3.3 2269/2300 440

– TEN career 500 mile Indy car races
– Four WINS
– LED in all TEN races
– Completed 98.65% of all laps – finished every race lap in 1999, 2014 and 2015. In 2000 blew an engine in the Marlboro 500.’

Bill Elliott joins Tony Stewart/Ray Evernham SRX series for 2021

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NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott became the eighth driver to join the Superstar Racing Experience, the short-track series being started by Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart.

The two-time Daytona 500 winner and 1988 NASCAR Cup Series champion was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015 and was voted NASCAR’s most popular driver 16 times (his son, Chase, has received the honor the past two years). Elliott also closed his full-time Cup career driving for Evernham’s Dodge team from 2001-03, winning the 2002 Brickyard 400.

“I am excited to reunite with Ray Evernham and some of the great legends of our sport,” Elliott, who joins Stewart and Bobby Labonte as NASCAR Hall of Famers in the SRX, said in a release. “I look forward to racing at some of the most historic American racing destinations and putting on an awesome show for the fans. We have a special driver field and it will be fun competing with some of the greatest drivers of all time.”

The series, which is expecting to have a dozen drivers, also has Tony Stewart, Helio Castroneves, Bobby Labonte, Paul Tracy, Tony Kanaan, Willy T. Ribbs and Mark Webber in its lineup.

SRX was co-founded by NASCAR Hall of Famers Stewart and Evernham and was unveiled July 13.

Several drivers have expressed interest in the new circuit, which is modeled on the International Race of Champions (IROC) series that matched drivers from various auto racing disciplines in equally prepared cars for an annual four-race series for 30 years.

With the addition of Bill Elliott, Superstar Racing Experience has yet to reveal a schedule or tracks, but it’s expected that Stewart’s Eldora Speedway will be on the slate.