Archive for September 16, 2013

juan-pablo-montoya-425team penskeEarlier today, Penske Racing released to the press the following statement …

Team Penske announced today that Juan Pablo Montoya will join the team in 2014. Montoya will drive the No. 2 Team Penske IndyCar for the full season as he will join Will Power and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the team’s IZOD IndyCar Series lineup beginning next season.

Montoya, 37, is a native of Colombia and he is one of the most accomplished drivers in the world. His career highlights include race wins in Formula One, NASCAR and the CART Indy Car Series. He is the only driver to produce victories in the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona and the Monaco Grand Prix. Montoya earned 11 IndyCar wins over two seasons as he captured the CART Series title in his rookie season of 1999 followed by a victory in the Indy 500 in 2000.

“I am really excited to join this legendary team beginning next year,” said Montoya. “I have had the opportunity to drive for some of the best racing teams in the world and I have always admired Roger Penske and his organization. I consider it an honor to be offered the opportunity to drive for Team Penske.”

“Juan is a proven winner at all levels of motorsport,” said Roger Penske. “He has won a lot of races and championships and he has an extremely passionate fan base. We look forward to building on his successes together and we believe he will be a great addition to Team Penske.”

Team Penske is one of the most successful teams in the history of professional sports. Competing in a variety of disciplines, cars owned and prepared by Penske Racing have produced 377 major race wins, 433 pole positions and 24 National Championships. The team has also earned 15 Indianapolis 500 victories in its storied history.

Later in the day, a Media Teleconference was held offering more insight into the new IndyCar race team to be assembled in 2014.

Penske Racing president, Tim Cindric and Juan Pablo Montoya commented on their coming to terms, enabling Montoya to join the IndyCar team of Penske Racing in 2014.

The moderator opened the teleconference asking: “Tim, today’s announcement took a few people by surprise.  Can you talk about how the opportunity to bring Juan to the team came about and what will he will bring to Team Penske starting next season?”

Tim Cindric went on to say:  “Really, I guess there wasn’t a lot of discussion about it because it all came together pretty quick.  I think Juan and I actually ran into each other on the grid in Michigan.  And you know, it was as simple as, “Hey, I heard ‑‑ obviously you’re not with 42 (team), what are you up to?”    Juan replied “Not sure.”    And I said, “We ought to put you in that IndyCar sometime.”  And he replied, “Let’s talk about it.”

“From then on, it was kind of casual conversation; it turned into the real deal.  That’s really how we started and how we ended up here today.”

Juan Pablo Montoya commented:  “I’m really excited.  If you really dream of any ideal position for a driver, and you could say, you could race for Penske, I think that would be No. 1.  And you know ‑‑ when I heard and it was announced that I wasn’t going to be in the 42 car next year, my No. 1 choice was going to be in a winning car.  I really wanted to be in a winning car.  As Tim said, when this opportunity came around, you know, you didn’t even have to think about it.  It was something that it was a great opportunity.  Having Helio and Will as teammates, two great guys, guys that ‑‑ one is leading the championship and the other guy has so much speed and so much potential that between them, I think they can help me a lot get up to speed.  You have to remember, I’ve been out of the open‑wheel for a while, so I’m going to have to get up to speed with everything again but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Asked if there was  any sponsorship in place for Montoya’s ride yet?  Cindric replied: “That’s a good question.  I think we are asking ourselves that same question. The approach that we took, because obviously it was a pretty short time frame ‑‑ once it got to the point where it was something that really looked like we could put it together, it really came down to Roger’s commitment to the sport and Roger’s commitment to winning, and the approach that we have taken, really, is let’s put the competitive piece in play first, and then hopefully we can sort the rest of it out.  And I guess that’s one of the advantages we all have working for Roger is his commitment to winning comes before everything else.  You know, the answer to your question is, no, we don’t have even one sponsor for one race as we sit here today, but, you know, I’m confident that will change as things go along.”

When asked how quickly Montoya thought he’d come up to speed, he replied “To be honest with you, the oval side I’m not too worried about it.  I’m not worried at all to be honest with you.  I think having the seven years of NASCAR and then my open‑wheel experience before that, I think I’m pretty excited about going to the ovals.  I know we don’t go to a lot, but you know, the one you want to win, it’s an oval.  You want to win the Indy 500.  I’m excited about that.  I have the opportunity to be in the car at Indy and I think with Penske it is going to be huge.  And I think the other one is going to be a process.  I normally pick up things really quick; all my career I have.  As I said before, having Will and Helio as teammates helping me out is going to really help me get up to speed.  I’m going to have to learn a lot again, but I’m up to the challenge – that is the No. 1 thing.”

The question regarding any opportunity to get Montoya in an IndyCar in 2013 for the season-ending race at Fontana was answered by Cindric saying:  “From my perspective, yeah, I’d love to run him in Fontana, but something tells me Chip’s probably not going to let that happen. We already talked about the fact that he’s got to stay focused and the commitments that he has on the 42 car there.  We’re certainly not going to get in the way of any of that, and there’s a seat for him here as soon as he’s able to take it.  But no, there’s no plans for that as we sit here.”

When asked what Montoya’s biggest challenge transitioning back to IndyCars, as far as the driving and/or conditioning, he replied: “The conditioning is a big part of it.  You know, since the moment I became a free agent, I wanted the opportunity in open‑wheel and I’ve been training really hard. I know I have a long way to go to where I want to be.  I know what it takes to be in the shape that you need to be in to win and be a champion. So I’m working towards that goal, and the good thing is that we’ve got a lot of time until the first race, so I’ve got a lot of time to prepare myself physically and mentally for it.”

Cindric was asked is there would  be any consideration in bringing Juan in for any NASCAR races, particularly Daytona, the road courses or the Brickyard? He replied:  “I’ve learned in this business never to say no; never to say never.  We certainly haven’t had any of those discussions, but just like with all of our drivers, if there’s something that makes sense out there, we certainly wouldn’t close the door on it. But certainly, his focus will be on IndyCar racing with us.”

Montoya was then asked about doing the double over the Memorial (Day) weekend racing in the both the Indy 500 and the Coca‑Cola 600. He answered by restating his commitment to IndyCar saying: “Right now we are focusing on the IndyCar program for next year, and as Tim said, if something comes up and something makes sense that we can work, we’ll do it. But I’ve really got to focus in on what I’m going to do next year.  I don’t want to be too distracted.  We didn’t come here to play.  We came here to get the job done and that’s what we want to do.”

For a quick review of Montoya’s Career Fact Sheet  …  Click Here