Montoya takes thrilling Indianapolis 500

Juan Pablo Montoya joined a long list of multiple winners of the Indianapolis 500 after a thrilling battle with teammate Will Power over the course of the final 20 laps.

Montoya was the story of the race from the very beginning after he had a major moment on the first restart of the day. Simona de Silvestro ran into the back of Montoya’s Verizon Chevrolet, destroying the left rear wheel pod. The ensuing extended yellow flag allowed Montoya to come down pit road for repairs and relegated him to 30th place.

Montoya would sift his way through traffic, while up front Scott Dixon commanded the race with teammate Tony Kanaan and Simon Pagenaud leading most of the opening half of the race.

Montoya had another near race losing moment on lap 40 when he made his first green flag pit stop and slid through hit pit stall. However, that did not slow his progress and he continued his stellar pace while the action was hot up front with a brilliant display of passing between Dixon, Pagenaud and Kanaan.

A scary incident occurred under yellow flag ptistops on lap 116. James Davison pulled out of pit stall and made contact with Dale Coyne Racing teammate Pippa Mann which knocked him into teammate Tristan Vautier’s stall, knocking down two crew members, Greg Senerius and Daniel Jang.

An ambulance was dispatched to the scene and the injured crew members were taken to the IU Infield Medical Center. Senerius was treated and released for a foot injury while Jang was transported to IU Health Methodist Hosptial for further evaluation of a right ankle injury.

A long yellow flag for a crash between Jack Hawksworth, Stefano Coletti and Sebastien Saavedra set the stage for a short sprint to the finish between Power, Montoya, Dixon, and Charlie Kimball. The race restarted on lap 186 with Will Power in the lead. Dixon was ready to pounce and slip streamed Power to take the lead in turn 3.

Power would return the favor a lap later and retook the lead from Dixon while Montoya was waiting in the wings for the perfect opportunity to make his move. On lap 191, he made his first move and passed Dixon for second place but could not get by Power. He then would swap the lead back and forth with his teammate over the course of the next several laps.

Montoya held the lead when the field came to take the white flag while Power followed closely and at that point had one final shot to get by his teammate. He lost a little momentum coming off turn 2 after he slipped and then was held up slightly by the lapped car of Justin Wilson, who had just pitted.

The Aussie chased his teammate through the final two corners with a last glimmer of hope to slipstream past his teammate, but the gap was too much to overcome and Montoya crossed the Yard of Bricks by a scant .1046s, capping off a remarkable run.

Image: Jason Porter via IndyCar

“I don’t know what to say, This is too much!” said an ecstatic Montoya in victory lane. “This is what racing in IndyCar is all about – awesome racing all the way down to the wire. It was just awesome.”

“My car was just well balanced. you wouldn’t believe how much front wing we put in that car today. It was a lot every stop. It just got to a point that I could actually run behind him pretty easy, run wide open behind him.”

The victory is the 16th for Roger Penske at Indy and the first since Helio Castroneves in 2009. Montoya also became the first driver to win from the 15th position since Graham Hill in 1966 and breaks a record for longest time between Indy 500 wins.

Power came home in second place after relinquishing the lead with three laps to go. While Charlie Kimball rounded out the top three with the arguably the strongest effort of his career. The Californian was consistently the fastest car on the track running inside the top 10 for much of the day and inherited the lead with around 50 laps to go when he was on pit road as the yellow flag flew. He then kept the lead for a few laps and was in the thick of it in the end and held off teammate Scott Dixon at the line.

Dixon led the most laps on the day but struggled with the handling of his #9 Target Chevrolet at the end of the race and held on for fourth place.

“We just didn’t get what we needed out of it,” said Dixon. “We had a bit of understeer on the car and I had to breathe and when you breathe, you are just a bit of a sitting duck.”

I thought we had enough momentum to keep going but once I got passed by Juan I lost a bit of momentum and Will got by me as well.”

Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti were the two quickest out of the Honda camp all day and finished fifth and sixth, respectively.

Helio Castroneves came home seventh while JR Hildebrand ran a stout day in his Indy-only CFH Racing entry and finished eighth. Hildebrand’s teammate Josef Newgarden finished ninth and Simon Pagenaud rallied back to 10th place late damage forced him to pit.

A few other Indy only entries had bad luck today. Conor Daly’s car began leaking fuel on the parade lap and was unable to make the grid and was scored in 33rd place while Bryan Clauson ended a rather disappointing month in 31st place after crashing on lap 61.

The return of Montoya to the Verizon IndyCar Series has come full circle with this win and he maintains his lead in the championship standings heading into Belle Isle.

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Josh Farmer joined the media center in 2012 after first discovering his love of IndyCar racing in 2004 at Auto Club Speedway. He has been an accredited member of the IndyCar media center since 2014 and also contributes to along with The Motorsports Tribune.

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