Montoya: “We can get a lot of wins this year”

Juan Pablo Montoya said today’s victory at St. Petersburg proved that Team Penske had bounced back from the disappointment of losing the championship last August.

Montoya: “We can get a lot of wins this year”
Podium: race winner Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet, second place Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet, third place Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda
Podium: race winner Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet, second place Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Podium: race winner Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet, second place Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet
Podium: race winner Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Podium: race winner Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet, second place Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet, third place Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet passes Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet

He told the media: “To come back here after being down, start the season with a win again, it shows everybody we're here. That’s good. I feel like we can get a lot of wins this year.

“It's nice to start the year with a win. To be honest with you, when you're in Team Penske, there's always that pressure that you got to win races. You have to win. You're in the best car, you got to win races.

“So to start the year with a win, it's like, ‘Oh, I got that one out of the way.’”

Montoya said that the setup differences between the four Penske cars had played in his favor as he tackled both Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud, and he also speculated how absent teammate Will Power might have fared. 

“It's fun because I felt we had a really dominant car in the race,” said the 15-time Indy car race winner. “It would have been interesting to see how good Will would have been. You compare Helio's pace to ours, I think ours was a little better.

“Simon and ours was a little closer in setup than the other two. Kind of like two different groups.”

Montoya revealed that he spent the first half of the race taking it easy and saving fuel, and only passed Castroneves because the Brazilian was struggling.

“I was behind Helio. Helio started having a problem, I passed him. To be honest, when I started running behind Simon, I didn't really even bother trying to close the gap. It's a long race, just save fuel.

“We were trying to save a lot of fuel. I was making really good fuel numbers. I was so proud of myself, to be honest. I couldn't believe how good of numbers I was getting, and I was keeping up, so it was good.

“Then with the first tire change, I did a really good job on cold tires. I closed the gap. I went from like six seconds to two seconds [behind]. In traffic I got even closer. We seemed to have a very similar pace at that point.

“I think on black tires, I would say he probably had an even better pace than me. On red tires, I definitely had the upper hand.”

Steering problems

Montoya explained that his steering issues that he mentioned on the team radio in the closing laps the had troubled him for half of the race.

“The steering dropped to the left,” he said. “Every time I braked, I went straight. Something broke there, but that's okay.

“It affected the car a little bit, but it wasn't too bad until I passed Hawksworth when it got really bad. Something let go completely. So I backed off. I had a five-second lead, so just took it easy and bring it to the end.

“It was pretty bad.  The left front wasn't moving too much. The problem is something broke on the right front. When I started, I think it's probably from [the crash into the tires] this morning. So I got to blame myself for that one.

“It was bad, but not terrible. When I passed Hawksworth, it went clack. I heard it. It went to turn right, all the way 90 degrees, it wouldn't turn. After 90 degrees, it would really turn. I figured out, Go to 90, turn.

“You look at my last three laps, I took it easy. I used the 'push to pass' to make up some time because I had like seven left with three laps to go. Just abuse it on the straight.

“I was really careful. The only place that was bad was turn three, right before turn 10, that little kink where Will crashed [in practice] and the fast chicane. I just took it easy through there. That was it. It was fine.”

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