Montoya wins IndyCar season opener after late-race duel

Penske teammates went head-to-head in Southern Florida.

Montoya wins IndyCar season opener after late-race duel
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Polesitter Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Tony Kanaan, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet

In the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Juan Pablo Montoya showed everybody that the speed he had from his CART and Formula One days hadn’t left him.

Winner comments

"To be honest with you, I was kind of stressed," said Montoya. "After the first run, I was like just get to the end, take some points and go home. Behind Simon, I was pushing hard. I knew I was quicker than him, but it wasn't enough to make a move."

"Last year was very disappointing. It was tough not only here but generally on the street courses.  I'm a guy that always excelled at street courses everywhere I raced. To come here and have a year with really bad street course racing, it was pretty tough.  I was never happy with the car."

"You know, with my engineers, we decided to go in a completely different way the than the other guys.  It paid off. My pace on black tires was pretty, pretty good."  

 

Despite starting fourth and last of the Penske quartet, JPM was able to get ahead thanks to having faster pit stops and some contact that removed one of the “rabbit ears” from pole sitter Will Power’s car.

Power vs. Montoya

Power led 75 laps out of the 110 scheduled, but had a slow last pit stop that delayed his exit thanks to the air jacks not deflating soon enough. That small delay allowed Montoya to get past and get a small lead that dwindled lap by lap as Power caught up to Montoya. Power was right behind Montoya and on lap 100 made an attempt to overtake in turn 10. Unfortunately, Power was not far enough alongside Montoya and a small appendage on the right half of his front wing became dislodged, affecting the amount of downforce his car was able to generate.

Power and Montoya caught traffic soon after but Power was unable to quickly get around Sage Karam, giving Montoya enough of a gap where he could almost rest easy, despite Power coming in second place by just under one second.

Best of the rest

Tony Kanaan was third for Chip Ganassi Racing, breaking up the Penske party at the front as Helio Castroneves was fourth and Simon Pagenaud was fifth.

The top Honda runner was Ryan Hunter-Reay. The Honda entries suffered from excessive shedding of fragile front wing elements. At one point, the broadcast showed seven front wings changed for Honda cars compared to one Chevrolet. This might have been the major difference in deciding the finishing order; seven of the top nine finishers were Chevrolet, while seven of the bottom nine finishers were Honda.

The race was slowed by five caution periods.

Pos   Driver   Car / Engine   Time/Gap 
1 J.P.Montoya Dallara/Chevrolet 2h16:58.1079 
2 Will Power Dallara/Chevrolet 0.9930
3 Tony Kanaan Dallara/Chevrolet 11.1685
4 H.Castroneves Dallara/Chevrolet 11.4376
5 Simon Pagenaud Dallara/Chevrolet 12.3909
6 S.Bourdais Dallara/Chevrolet 16.4923
7 Ryan Hunter-Reay Dallara/Honda 27.7102
8 Jack Hawksworth Dallara/Honda 34.9206
9 Luca Filippi Dallara/Chevrolet 38.1564
10 Marco Andretti Dallara/Honda 38.6910
11 Graham Rahal Dallara/Honda 40.3895
12 Josef Newgarden Dallara/Chevrolet 51.7710
13 Takuma Sato Dallara/Honda 52.2688
14 Carlos Muñoz Dallara/Honda 56.7210
15 Scott Dixon Dallara/Chevrolet 59.6613
16 J.Hinchcliffe Dallara/Honda 1'02.4581
17 Gabby Chaves Dallara/Honda 1'03.0667
18 S.de Silvestro Dallara/Honda 1'03.1422
19 Sage Karam Dallara/Chevrolet 1 Lap
20 Stefano Coletti Dallara/Chevrolet 1 Lap
21 Charlie Kimball Dallara/Chevrolet 1 Lap
  Retirements    
22 James Jakes Dallara/Honda 10 Laps
23 F.Dracone Dallara/Honda Mechanical
24 Carlos Huertas Dallara/Honda Mechanica
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