With championship unlikely, Montoya on recent performance nosedive: ‘It’s getting really old fast’

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As much as he has tried to turn things around, Juan Pablo Montoya’s nosedive continues in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Montoya recorded his third 20th-place finish in the last four races in Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto.

After winning the season-opening race at St. Petersburg, Florida, Montoya has spiraled down, down and down some more.

He was third in the standings after the Angie’s List Grand Prix. Two weeks later, after finishing an embarrassing 33rd in the Indianapolis 500 – and one year after he won the Greatest Spectacle In Racing – Montoya plummeted seven spots to 10th.

While he improved to sixth after Belle Isle Race 1, one day later he dropped again to ninth after Belle Isle Race 2. He dropped to 11th after last week’s race at Iowa and is now 13th after Toronto.

And with five races now left on the schedule, Montoya (279 points) finds himself a massive 153 points behind points leader and Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud (432 points).

Granted, JPM is only 14 points out of 10th place (Carlos Munoz, 293 points). But with less than one third of the season remaining now, any championship hopes are all but gone.

That is, unless he goes on a Will Power-like run. Power, who won Sunday’s race, has now won three of the last four races (and the fourth race he finished runner-up).

“Yeah, it’s terrible,” Montoya said after Sunday’s race. “On Friday, I made a mistake and went into the wall, so we got behind.

“(Saturday) morning we had a misfire with the engine and didn’t do any laps before qualifying. We didn’t qualify as well as we could. We knew we had a good race car though.

“The DeVilbiss Chevy was really good. I passed a lot of people and had a lot of fun. I thought I had an easy podium if not more.”

But then Montoya was involved in an incident that essentially ended his day – and potentially any last hope to rebound for the championship that he just barely lost in last year’s season finale to Scott Dixon.

“We missed a pit call by about two seconds,” Montoya said of the latter stage of Sunday’s race. “I started at the back.

“I was running with the No. 28 (Ryan Hunter-Reay) there late and went to turn with him, but the No. 41 (Jack Hawksworth) was in the wall and there was nowhere to go.

“It seems like every weekend there is something, and it’s getting really old really fast.”

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X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E

Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.