Report: Montoya rejects idea of closed cockpits in IndyCar

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Juan Pablo Montoya is having a seat fit today in a closed-cockpit prototype, in what’s in essence a space ship on wheels: the Porsche 919 Hybrid.

While the Colombian is taking up residence in that car as a potential side opportunity, first via a test next month in Bahrain with the potential of a race appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, he’d prefer his day job car keeps an open-cockpit.

Montoya, speaking to German broadcaster RTL, said IndyCar doesn’t need to adopt closed cockpits. Talk and calls have increased for that to occur in IndyCar following the death of Justin Wilson in August, and also with Jules Bianchi having succumbed to his injuries in July after his crash last October in the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix.

“If someone can’t handle the danger, maybe you shouldn’t be racing,” Montoya told RTL, via GrandPrix.com.

“Everybody out there knows that risk is always a part of it. It is just part of being a racing driver.”

Montoya, who debuted in CART in 1999 in a year that series lost two drivers in two months (Gonzalo Rodriguez, then Greg Moore), would fall in line with the thinking of Sir Stirling Moss, who made comments at Lime Rock that closed cockpits in open-wheel would be “ridiculous.”

Immediate changes for 2016 won’t happen, Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles told USA Today Sports last week.

“You’re not going to see a change to the car for next year in this regard just because I don’t think it’s possible,” Miles said.

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.