IndyCar 2016 driver review: Juan Pablo Montoya

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MotorSportsTalk looks through the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, after the conclusion of the 2016 season.

Next up is Juan Pablo Montoya, who endured a frustrating 2016 season but who remains an incredibly attractive free agent yet to sort his 2017 plans.

Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet

  • 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
  • 2016: 8th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 3rd, 3 Podiums, 5 Top-5, 10 Top-10, 123 Laps Led, 9.6 Avg. Start, 10.9 Avg. Finish

Juan Pablo Montoya wins the “probably finished higher in points than he otherwise could have” award for 2016 on the heels of a podium in the double-points final race. It provided a nice bookend to an otherwise frustrating campaign that raised questions about his future because of the intervening 14 races in-between.

After losing the 2015 title at Sonoma in nearly the worst possible way, on a tiebreaker to Scott Dixon, Montoya bounced back nicely to win the season opener with a cagey move on Simon Pagenaud to pull off an encore at St. Petersburg. And the following four races were still good – a last-to-fifth drive at Barber was arguably one of the drives of the year – and he entered the Indianapolis 500 third in points.

And then, the wheels fell off. The rare first-to-worst in back-to-back years at Indianapolis occurred when he crashed coming off Turn 2, capping a month of frustration when he lost a would-be good qualifying run to a plastic bag hitting his car. A potential win at Detroit went begging in race one, followed by an abnormal accident in race two. His battle with Josef Newgarden at Road America was intense as he came out on top… but it was for seventh. An engine failure at Iowa and a mistimed pit stop at Toronto cost what were two more potential top-fives and set off a spate of stories questioning whether JPM still “had it” – even though he did.

There was another crash in practice at Pocono that then led to a “Frankencar” being assembled for qualifying. Several more underwhelming results brought into question his seat at Team Penske for 2017, but third at Sonoma was enough to vault him back to eighth in the standings from 14th place after Watkins Glen.

In truth, Montoya’s year was never as bad as many made it out to be. The luck he frequently had in 2015 was nowhere to be found this year. He still raced hard and mixed it up on track, showing that same trademark ability that has lasted the span of his career. Qualifying was probably his weakest point; a 9.6 grid average was never bad but was always going to be compared, negatively, to Simon Pagenaud at 3.8, Helio Castroneves at 4.2 and Will Power at 5.7. Four spots doesn’t seem like a lot to make up, but four extra spots at the front of the field don’t come easy.

Montoya’s confident he’ll be in IndyCar in 2017 but where remains a question mark, following news Josef Newgarden will take over his full-time seat at Team Penske. Montoya has an Indianapolis 500 seat there if he wants it, but that’s likely not his first choice. In a lower pressure environment, he could thrive once again, and he’ll be motivated as hell to return to championship contention. He doesn’t need the money, but I’m sure he does want to showcase that he still remains one of his generation’s best – at 41 years of age and counting.

Vicki Golden and 805 Beer tell a unique story from an Inverted Perspective


Vicki Golden has earned a career worthy of a thousand stories and 805 Beer tells at least one of them, as “Inverted Perspective” premiered March 30 on the company’s website and YouTube channel.

Golden did more to break the glass ceiling in SuperMotocross than she ever thought possible. She knows this because riders have never felt the need to explain any of her accomplishments with the disclaimer, “for a girl”. 

At this point in Golden’s career, she’s been the first woman to finish top 10 in AMA Arenacross Lites, the first woman to qualify in the Fast 40 in Monster Energy AMA Supercross and the first woman to compete in freestyle Moto X competition, earning a bronze medal by doing so.

Her love for moto came from childhood while she watched her dad and brother ride. By seven she was on her bike and making waves throughout Southern California. 

Golden, 30, is still madly in love with the sport and has no plans on moving away but her career is already one to talk about. 805 Beer’s film series wanted to do exactly that.

“I’m taken aback by it all,” Golden told NBC Sports about the documentary. “It’s just crazy to see your story, it’s one thing to live your life and battle everything that comes about but it’s another to just sit there and talk about it.”

805 approached Golden about the feature by asking, “Do you even realize that what you do, and your story is special?”

Golden took the question as a blank canvas to map out the highs and lows of her career and life. 

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The title “Inverted Perspective” came from a brainstorming session with Dominick Russo and it highlights Golden’s outlook on the sport of SuperMotocross and her life in general. 

“My whole life, my whole career was thinking differently and looking at things that shouldn’t be done and aren’t there, while being able to make a place for myself, where no one thought there should be a place,” Golden said.  “It’s inspiring someone to think in different ways. It sums up my life.”

Vicki Golden is not “fast for a girl”; she’s just fast. – 805 Beer

While Golden is no stranger to the spotlight, this was the first time she’s been fully involved with the storytelling and creation of a feature about herself. 

“It’s not like a full new experience,” Golden said. “Obviously, you get your standard questions about your upbringing and accomplishments, but I’ve never really put into perspective things that happened in my past with my dad and putting that to light. Also, certain other things that maybe got overlooked in previous interviews or films. I wanted to touch on these and Dom wanted to create a story. It’s just cool to see it come to light, it’s a nearly impossible thing to tell somebody’s life story in 40 minutes.”

Golden’s father was left paralyzed after an ATV accident, robbing him the opportunity to ride again. This happened a few months before the father-daughter duo was set to compete in the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur Nationals when Vicki was 12. While she might have been unable to grasp the severity at the time, it’s something she carries with her. Golden continues to ride in his honor.

Years later, an accident in 2018 nearly sidelined the then 25-year-old Vicki when a freestyle accident almost resulted in the amputation of her lower leg. 

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Golden 805 Beer
Vicki Golden has ridden a variety of disciplines in SuperMotocross, which gives her a unique perspective. – 805 Beer

“Inverted Perspective” highlights her father’s diligence in helping Vicki continue with her career and the kindness and strength he carried while fighting his own battle. 

“My dad was the entire reason that I started riding in the first place,” Golden said. “So, to honor his memory and to honor what we went through and how hard he pushed to keep our dream alive and keep everything going – in that sense then, it was really special to be able to honor him and talk about him.”

The 40-minute feature was filmed entirely in black and white, a stark contrast from the oversaturated world of motocross where the brighter the suit the easier it is for fans to find their rider and follow him in the race. By filming in monochrome Russo and Golden had the chance to focus on the race and track from a different perspective. 

“It was cool to be able to film it differently,” Golden said. “It created a challenge in the sense of what was going to be more visually impactful for the film.

“I couldn’t be here without the companies that back me but at the same time, it’s not like the logos or colors disappeared, it’s just different lights shed on different spots. It’s just a cool way to do it and to take color away and still be impactful. When you think of black and white, you think of old school, the OG way of doing things.”