Latest test for Montoya is Sonoma
Juan Pablo Montoya, who won his first NASCAR road course race in 2007 at Sonoma Raceway, was back at the track on Dec. 16, testing a Team Penske car at the Northern California road course in preparation for his return to Indy car racing in 2014.
The Formula One and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran will compete in the IndyCar Series full time next season in the No. 2 Team Penske car. And while M is familiar with Sonoma's 1.99-mile stock car configuration of the road course. He took his first laps on the 2.38-mile configuration used by the IndyCar Series.
"It's hard to go to the places where I've been in a stock car because my mind is not right," said Montoya. "My mind says one thing and my foot says another. They don't agree. You go wide open through the Esses and my mind is saying 'You can do it' and my foot is saying 'No, I'm coming out.' I just need a little more confidence in the car and seeing what the car can do. You really got to try to build it up."
Montoya completed about 50 laps, with an emphasis on hitting his marks on the track. The team went through three sets of tires and practiced pit stops. Montoya's next on-track action will be in mid-January at Sebring along with teammates Helio Castroneves and Will Power.
"It's great to be back; great for the series," Montoya said. "It's great for everybody. The cars are so much fun to drive. I think the series does a great job of bringing the races to the people with the street courses; the cars are faster, it's fun. I've got a lot of success in open wheel, but I'm not trying to talk too much about it. Do I want to win every week? Yes, of course I do, but with Will and Helio, I have two really strong teammates, people I can learn from and with time, hopefully we can win.
"I want to win races. It's a shorter season, the cars are faster, we do street courses, road courses, small ovals, big ovals. It's going to be a lot fun. It's a big change. You come from something that you have to lift a lot and slide around a lot but with this you slide around a lot but you're sliding around about 50 miles per hour faster. There's not a lot of runoff here so it's easy to get it wrong. I'm trying to build to it. The transition is going to be tremendous."