|Montoya on the inside at Fontana in 2000 in a CART IndyCar – a real race car|
The fastest Juan Pablo Montoya has ever been in his racing career was at Auto Club Speedway in 2000 when, by his own admission, he reached 256 mph on the back stretch. That's the year Gil de Ferran set the world record of 241.428 in a qualifying lap for the CART Marlboro 500.
That's been the last time Montoya was in an IndyCar. After winning the CART title, the personable Colombian jumped to Formula One, where he spent six years before returning to the United States for a Cup ride in NASCAR. At the conclusion of the 2013 NASCAR campaign, Montoya made another jump, returning to open-wheel racing and landing a ride with Team Penske for the 2014 IndyCar Series season.
Although he tested at Sebring earlier in the month, Monday was the scheduled start of his returning to an oval, the same two-mile superspeedway where he won the 2000 CART driving championship. However, infamous high Fontana winds postponed the session until later in the week. Montoya is scheduled to test in Phoenix today in his drive to prepare for the upcoming campaign.
Teammate Helio Castroneves will help setup the Dallara for the 38-year-old Montoya. It's similar to what Will Power, the Team Penske driver who won the MAVTV 500 finale at ACS in November, did at Sebring.
"I think with Helio and Will, we'll complement each other and make our cars better," said Montoya, who chose to join Roger Penske's team. "It's a great organization, unbelievable. To do what they do, with a two-car team, is unbelievable." San Gabriel Valley Tribune