The Racing Capital
of the World
April 30, 2014 | By Dave Lewandowski
By Juan Pablo Montoya’s estimation, the Brickyard 400 owes him at least one victory. He’s already pointing to July 27 to celebrate in Victory Circle.
The Verizon IndyCar Series driver and Team Penske announced April 30 that they’ll enter the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway along with the June 15 event at Michigan International Speedway.
“Coming here to the Brickyard, it’s one of those places where I feel like I got robbed a few times. To be able to come here and be able to close that deal will be really, really nice,” Montoya said an hour before climbing in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske car for an Open Test on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Montoya, who competed in stock car racing from 2007-13, tested April 23 at Nashville Superspeedway.
“I felt like it was a good test and everyone seemed happy. I was very happy that I got up to speed very easy. Within five laps I was comfortable in the car,” said Montoya, who has a best finishes of second in the Brickyard 400 and sixth at MIS. “I think running Michigan and here are two tracks where running open-wheel helps you, especially Michigan, which is a lot like an open-wheel car because you don’t slow down much and use momentum and a lot of high speed.
“For me, this opportunity is pretty unique. We always talked about with (team owner) Roger (Penske) about an INDYCAR-focused deal from the beginning. This year it would be nice to be in a car because they are so competitive this year week in and week out. Both the 2 (Brad Keselowski) and 22 (Joey Logano) are running up front.”
Both Team Penske drivers have won already this season.
"It has been a good start to the season with Team Penske in the Verizon IndyCar Series and it will be fun to get back behind the wheel of the Cup car," said Montoya, the 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner. "It's hard to believe, but Roger Penske has never won the Brickyard 400. I think that Brad, Joey and I will give Roger and Team Penske a great opportunity to check that off the list and we should be strong at Michigan as well."
Montoya has recorded two wins, 24 top-five finishes and nine pole awards in his Cup Series career with Chip Ganassi Racing.
“It’s good to be able to sit here and know that with our NASCAR program we can give Juan a chance to fulfill one of his goals in NASCAR,” Penske Racing President Tim Cindric said. “Not only to win here at the Brickyard, but to run on an oval and actually do some unfinished business in winning on an oval in NASCAR.
“With the success that our organization has had this year, it is a complement to the program. When we went through our discussions with Juan, there was really never a promise to go NASCAR racing. Our focus was on Indy cars, but as we looked at how the season progressed, we saw the opportunity to run at the Brickyard. It’s an important race for everybody in NASCAR, not just for our organization. It’s one of the biggest races of the year and to go there with somebody that could have won the race a few of times already is something that we’re looking forward to.
“To just run the Brickyard would be a pretty big ask of our team and of Juan, without having spent much time in our cars or having been out in a Cup car for a while, so we felt like we needed to give him another shot at it prior to the Brickyard so he could get ready for us.”