Montoya to drive 5th Penske car in 500 (Update)

Montoya may drive only 1 race in 2017
Montoya may drive only 1 race in 2017

UPDATE Montoya returns to Team Penske for 2017 Indianapolis 500: Juan Pablo Montoya will return to Team Penske for the 2017 Indianapolis 500, team president Tim Cindric confirmed to INDYCAR. It is currently the only Verizon IndyCar Series race that the two-time Indy 500 winner is scheduled to drive in the 2017 season.

Montoya has won 15 Indy car races in 91 career starts over five seasons. The 41-year-old Colombian drove for Chip Ganassi Racing in CART in 1999-2000 and for Team Penske from 2014-16, with stints in Formula One and NASCAR in between. He won the CART championship in 1999 and the Indianapolis 500 in 2000 and 2015.

Driving the No. 2 Chevrolet for Team Penske in 2016, Montoya finished eighth in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings with a win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Team Penske signed Josef Newgarden to drive the No. 2 car in 2017, leaving Montoya without a fulltime seat with the team. When Team Penske announced the addition of Newgarden last month, Cindric said Montoya was offered the opportunity to drive a Team Penske car in next year's Indianapolis 500.

Montoya explored options with other Verizon IndyCar Series teams but decided a return to Penske gave him the best chance to win a third Indy 500, according to Cindric, who confirmed the agreement today with the INDYCAR Mobile app. Cindric said details of Montoya's involvement for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil will be announced at a future date.

"He didn't want to leave the team but wanted to see what else was out there," Cindric told the INDYCAR Mobile app. "After giving it some thought, he told me the best opportunity was to run Indy with Team Penske, so if the offer still stood, that is what he wanted to do."

Montoya will complete a Penske armada at Indianapolis that includes the top four finishers in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series standings – champion Simon Pagenaud, second-place Will Power, third-place Helio Castroneves (a three-time Indy 500 winner) and Newgarden. It will mark the first time for Team Penske to field five cars at "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

"The fact we are going to stay together and try to win Indy together speaks about our relationship between the team and Juan," Cindric said.

10/31/16 Juan Pablo Montoya will remain at Team Penske in 2017 to compete in the Indy 500, and team president Tim Cindric says he hopes the Colombian ace will also be part of the squad's sportscar program "should one come together."

Team Penske has run Montoya full-time in IndyCar since the start of the 2014 season, and he has scored four wins – including the 2015 Indy 500 – and finished runner-up in that year's Verizon IndyCar Series championship.

In July this year, Penske offered Montoya a fifth car for the 101st Indianapolis 500 but was told he was free to pursue full-time offers elsewhere. Earlier this month Josef Newgarden was confirmed in the #2 Penske-Chevrolet entry from 2017.

Two months ago, Montoya said he wished to remain full-time in IndyCar, but that he was considering all options. These included Ed Carpenter Racing and AJ Foyt Racing, while rumors also linked him to possibly returning to Chip Ganassi Racing – where he won the 1999 CART Indy car title and the 2000 Indy 500 – or even replacing the retiring Mark Webber in the Porsche 919 Hybrid program in the World Endurance Championship.

However, Montoya, who was in Mexico for the Formula 1 race last weekend, has confirmed that he will be remaining at Team Penske next year. He told Motorsport.com: "It's my best chance to win Indy again, to be honest. That is the one that counts and Penske gives me the best chance to win.

"Also this will give me more time to work with Sebastian [son] in karting."

Cindric told Motorsport.com: "Juan and I had put together a timeline for the end of October, today, to make a decision. Like I said when we confirmed Josef [Newgarden], we made an offer to Juan to run the Indy 500 with us next year if that's something he wanted to do, and we obviously didn't want to leave that totally open-ended.

"It would mean a fifth car and because we don't have a fifth kit of anything, and because we need to think in terms of support equipment and resources and so forth, there would be some planning that would need to go into that.

"Anyway, it does seem as though Juan thinks that remaining at Team Penske is the right move for him so we're now planning accordingly."

Asked if Montoya was free to race for other IndyCar teams on a part-time basis, Cindric replied: "That isn't something we'd be interested in being part of, no. I think it's understood that if he were to drive Indy for us, that would be the extent of his IndyCar program for next year." David Malsher/Motorsport.com

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