IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Juan Pablo Montoya

Montoya Indy 500 McLaren
AP
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MotorSportsTalk looks through the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, after the conclusion of the 2015 season.

Next up is the runner-up, Juan Pablo Montoya.

Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet

  • 2014: 4th Place, 1 Win, 1 Pole, 4 Podiums, 8 Top-5, 9 Top-10, 167 Laps Led, 10.7 Avg. Start, 9.7 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 2nd Place, 2 Wins, 0 Poles (started first twice via qualifying rainouts), 5 Podiums, 9 Top-5, 13 Top-10, 145 Laps Led, 6.4 Avg. Start, 6.9 Avg. Finish

It probably could have been Juan Pablo Montoya’s championship, and should have been if simply one more race result at any point over 16 races would have come good. Montoya’s frequently uttered line of “is it what it is,” while cliché, is probably a good way of describing his 2015 season.

What can you say of Montoya’s excellent car control and strategic defense in the opening six races of the year? It is what it is. Anyone who’s followed Montoya’s career since his arrival in CART as a then-23-year-old fresh-faced rookie in 1999 will know watching his on-boards is simply a joy to behold. His comeback, then defense against Will Power at this year’s Indianapolis 500 is going to be something you remember for a long time.

His qualifying this year? It is what it is, which is to say much better than it was in 2014. Montoya improved from a 10.6 average grid position to 6.4 this year, and that made the job so much easier on Sundays.

His consistent, if less than impressive string of results post-the Indianapolis 500? It is what it is. Six straight results between fourth and 10th from Detroit through Milwaukee were never dynamic drives, but always good enough to bank his points lead and get it north of 40 points.

His luck going bad in the final four races? It is what it is. Every one of the title contenders had some sort of rut during the season and Montoya’s came at the worst possible time, with a suspension failure at Iowa, getting caught out on a yellow at Mid-Ohio, and then his infamous coming-together with Will Power at Sonoma all coming when he had little to no chance of recovering.

His attitude at Sonoma and then the night after at the championship banquet? It is what it is. JPM’s infamous “Dixon had a (expletive) season” line in the Sonoma press conference came off poorly, but he course corrected rather nicely with his comments during the championship celebration Monday night.

Was it good to see Montoya back in title-contending form? Yes, it certainly was. Overall, I’m fairly certain he doesn’t care what we think of him, because it is what it is.