INDIANAPOLIS — Juan Pablo Montoya has been here too many times to be worried about where he’s at after a test day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He’s one of 20 humans to walk the face of this Earth to have visited victory lane on Memorial Day weekend here at IMS multiple times. Montoya did it in 2000 as a rookie and again in 2015.
So, for him to be last on the speed charts on Thursday was eye opening because of his past successes here. However, he didn’t even bat an eye on where he was on the timing charts though. He knows that all those top laps are set in a draft. Montoya’s speed of 223.980 mph was certainly turned with a tow, but he’s not lagging back looking for a bigger number either.
“I am really happy with the day; both days went really well,” said the 46-year old veteran. “I never really focus on getting a big draft to put a big number on the board. Actually my fastest time was on the long run in the end so I am pretty happy with that.”
Last year, Montoya started 24th, his worst starting spot in the six years that he’s been in this race. He didn’t stay back there long. He’d finish 9th a year ago despite making his first Indy appearance in five years. With so much having changed since the last time he’s been in an INDYCAR, like a brand new car in general, an Aeroscreen and a package that was nothing like he was used to racing here, he still nabbed his 5th top 10 in 6 tries at Indy.
So, for him to say that his No. 6 Chevrolet is ahead now than it was when he left last year, well that to me is the biggest eye opening thing he could say over where his car sits on a speed chart.
“Honestly, we made a lot of progress from where we finished last year and I am really happy with the car,” Montoya continued. “We made a few adjustments that all seem to be positive. I think we are headed in the right direction, so I’m really happy.”
While this is a second straight one-off opportunity here, I wouldn’t put it past him to contend for the win on May 29.