Monday, 14 March 2016

Back-to-back St. Pete wins for Montoya

Juan Pablo Montoya started this season as he did the last by taking a commanding wn in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The Colombian headed home team mate Simon Pagenaud as Penske locked out three of the top four finishing positions.

However, Penske could have very nearly dominated further. Pole sitter Will Power, who broke the lap record with his qualifying run, was forced to miss the race due to illness, being replaced by veteran Oriol Servia.

It was Pagenaud who looked to have the advantage early on as the race went an unusual 46 laps without major incident.

The first caution came about due to Marco Andretti's stricken car. The third generation driver, celebrating his birthday on race day attempted a move at the final turn which didn't pay off. When the race restarted, rookie driver Conor Daly was the surprise leader, playing his strategy perfectly to get to the front.

Moments later the caution flag was back out as Andretti has once again stalled. Like before, when the race resumed it wasn't for long. The green flag dropped on lap 57 but the lap wasn't even completed before a monumental incident started by Carlos Munoz saw nine cars taken out.

As well as the major incident, the lap 57 restart saw Montoya move into the lead, a position he would not relinquish.

Despite Pagenaud's best efforts, he could not close in on his team mate, eventually settling for second.

"It was good. The Chevy was good all day. It was exciting to have a new paint scheme (on his car) and come out and win with it," said Montoya. "It's just awesome. We started the year last year like this. I felt this morning we had a really good car and it paid off."

"Overall it was a great day. If you compare to last year, it's been a massive improvement on the whole 22 crew," added Pagenaud. "But, yeah, Montoya is an old dog. He found a little good trick on me. I made one tiny little mistake and it lost me the race."

Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay put a stop to a Penske-Chevrolet podium sweep by muscling his Honda-powered entry past Helio Castroneves for third.

"It was a good accomplishment today - very good car and the guys did a great job. We did everything we could today from fifth [on the grid]," aid Hunter-Reay. "I'll take starting the year out with a podium for sure."

Schmidt Peterson' Motorsport's Mikhail Aleshin rounded out the top five on his return to the series after contesting just one race last year.

"It was not very easy because of the lack of testing, but the SMP Racing car was very easy to drive," said the Russian. "I had so much fan, especially when I almost crashed into the group of guys. I don't know how I manage to find reverse, which is not easy, I'll tell you. A few seconds later and the engine would have overheated."

The Verizon IndyCar Series continues on April 2 with the championship's first visit to Phoenix since the re-unification in 2008.

Image: IndyCar Media

1 comment:

  1. At least in Indycar they don't require the drivers' weight to be less than 70 kg :)