Juan Pablo Montoya hopes Pocono can get him back on the right track

(Getty Images)

If anyone needs a mulligan this season in the Verizon IndyCar Series, it’s Juan Pablo Montoya.

Not just for a race or two, but for nearly half of the first 12 races that have played out thus far in 2016.

The Colombian racing veteran started 2016 in great fashion, winning at St. Petersburg for the second consecutive year.

But ever since finishing last in the Indianapolis 500, it’s been all downhill from there for JPM.

Montoya is hoping to put an end to a slide that has seen him drop from first to 12th (the lowest he’s been has been 13th, after Toronto) in the standings.

It’s been especially rough the last five races. Montoya finished 20th in Belle Isle 2, jumped up to seventh at Elkhart Lake, had two additional back-to-back 20th place finishes at Iowa and Toronto and was 11th in the most recent IndyCar race two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio.

Any hope of a championship is all but conceded. Now, he’ll be lucky to finish the season in the top 10.

Worst yet, unless his performance and ranking in the standings improve, Montoya is on target to record his worst season finish ever in open-wheel racing – including CART, Formula One and IndyCar. His previous worst season was ninth in his final season in CART in 2000 (and was eighth in his final F1 season in 2006).

“This season has been as frustrating as I can remember,” Montoya said. “We’ve had a good car pretty much everywhere, but we’re not getting the results for one reason or another.”

That’s why Montoya, who turns 41 on Sept. 20, hopes he can still salvage somewhat of an end-of-season turnaround in the final four races of the 2016 campaign, starting with this weekend’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.

He couldn’t pick a better place: He won there in 2014 and finished third in last season’s race, which was marred by the tragic death of Justin Wilson in a racing accident.

And given Montoya is 19 points out of 10th place (Charlie Kimball) and 58 points out of fifth place (tie, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan), he still has hope a good run at Pocono could help him start a climb back upward in the standings.

“Pocono has been good to us the last couple of years,” Montoya said. “I hope it brings some good luck. The Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet team definitely needs some of that right now.

“Pocono is great track for IndyCar with a lot of opportunities to make things happen. It would be nice to finish the season strong.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”