Juan Montoya is returning to open wheel racing. Montoya has signed a deal with Roger Penske to drive a third car for the team next season. Juan recently turned down Michael Andretti’s offer to drive one of his cars, which led everyone to believe that he was staying in NASCAR, where he would drive the number 78 car, which will be vacated by Kurt Busch following this season.
The news came out of left field today, catching everyone by surprise. It was announced this afternoon by the team. This is a true 180 degree turn for IndyCar, which normally has a lot of bad news to announce. Despite losing the Baltimore race, and more than likely the race in Sao Paulo next year, the series will welcome back the 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner. Montoya also won the CART title in 1999, and 11 races for Chip Ganassi. After that, he went on to Formula 1, where he recorded 7 wins and 30 podium finishes before moving to NASCAR.
Montoya has stressed the importance of being in a winning car, ever since the announcement was made about his release with Ganassi. He did visit the Furniture Row Racing team in Colorado, but it’s hard to imagine him winning races in that car. Ultimately, this is the best chance for him to win races, and be competitive.
Juan will be driving the number 2 car, which has been driven by Ryan Briscoe and AJ Allmendinger the past two seasons. Adding him to the team gives the Captain three drivers with remarkable driving resumes. Helio Castoneves is a 3-time Indy 500 winner, and is on the cusp of winning his first career Championship. Despite his recent slump, Will Power is considered to be arguably the best driver in the series.
It’s a well-known fact that Montoya is a tremendously talented driver. He is the only driver to ever win the Indy 500, 24 Hours of Daytona, and the Monaco Grand Prix. Obviously he is not the same driver now at the age of 37, as he was back then. Still, he is going to be driving a great car, and will have plenty of opportunities to win.
Roger Penske told Marshall Pruett that Montoya contacted his team (specifically Tim Cindric) and that his team made sure there were no conflicts with Chip Ganassi before they signed him. He also said that they won’t be able to get him in an IndyCar to test until after the Sprint Cup season concludes on November 17.