Even though he has seen what was a commanding championship lead become tenuous, Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya maintains an unwavering mental approach for the final two races of the Verizon IndyCar Series season.
“The best way to earn points is winning, and we can only control what we do, not what others do,” said Montoya, who enters the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 23 with a nine-point lead over Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal and a 34-point margin on Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon. “It’s unfortunate that we have given back some points over the last few races. Our results at Iowa and Mid-Ohio weren’t anything that we could control. The No. 2 Verizon Chevy team gave me good cars and we had ourselves in decent positions to have good finishes.”
If history is a guide, Montoya has an edge this weekend at Pocono, winning from the pole there in 2014. In 10 previous 500-mile races during his Indy car career, Montoya has won four times, led in all 10 and his average position of finish is 3.3. Last year’s Pocono race had but a single caution period and set an Indy car record for 500-mile races with an average winning speed of 202.402 mph.
The top 10 drivers in points are still mathematically eligible for the title heading to Pocono. With double points available in the season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma available on Aug. 30, any driver within 104 points of the leader after Pocono still has a shot heading to Sonoma Raceway.
“It’s going to be right down to the wire,” said Roger Penske, owner of Montoya’s car and those of fellow championship contenders Helio Castroneves and Will Power. “Dixon is very good out there. Rahal is on a bit of a roll right now. We just have to keep our head on, and I think Montoya is the kind of guy you want on your driver’s team when it comes down to a fight.”