Montoya satisfied with comeback effort so far

Juan Pablo Montoya said taking fifth place on the grid for tomorrow’s IndyCar Grand Prix was “pretty good” considering he hadn’t taken part in a qualifying session since last September’s season finale.

Montoya satisfied with comeback effort so far
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet

Although he was half a second slower than polesitting teammate Will Power, Montoya did beat defending champion Simon Pagenaud and was within 0.15sec of front-row starter Helio Castroneves.

Asked if it was tough getting back into the routine of qualifying, Montoya said: “I thought it was going to be… but not really. It felt really good in practice this morning, so I was like, ‘Just leave it alone, maybe take out front wing and send it and we did, and it was awful.’

“I went fifth in the first group, nearly missed [getting out of] the first freaking group, and I ended up doing the Fast Six. So it's okay.”

Montoya, who tested at Barber Motorsports Park in March and at Gateway earlier this month, said little mistakes on his final run prevented him from making a challenge for the front row.

“We saw what Will [Power] ran, and I had run a 68sec flat in the second session, but I made a couple of mistakes. So I thought, I probably got an something in me, I'm going to give it a go, and instead of going faster I made a couple mistakes and went slower in the first lap. In the second lap, I really nailed the start of it and I nailed turn 12 and when I went to Turn 13, I spun the tires and almost spun.”

The Colombian legend, who raced the past three years full-time for Team Penske, said that the new-for-2017 reduction of practice time had hurt his efforts.

“When they [Penske] said we were going to run the Indy road course, I remember last year here you get the open test and you get two hours on Thursday and long sessions, I'm going to have time to build up.

“Then I looked at the schedule, and it's two 45-minute sessions. I’m like, ‘OK’…

“But it was fun. I mean, you've really got to be in the game, it's a really busy day. It's tough because this morning, the track being so cold relative to now, it's completely different.

“We'll see. I think tomorrow if we hit it, we'll be pretty competitive. If we miss it, then we miss it.”

Montoya observed that despite this being a road course race, he and the fifth Penske team were able to use it as a trial run for their Indy 500 campaign.

“Anything we do – the laps we do and pitstops we do – are going to be a bonus for the 500,” he remarked. “I've got a really experienced group of guys but they haven't done it in a while, so I think we get the pressure on people just to [practice]. I mean, let's leave the screw-ups this week, know what I mean?!”

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