Juan Pablo Montoya finds himself in a different place as the IndyCar Series returns to Pocono Raceway. With four races left in the season, he’s not the man to beat.
Heading into Sunday’s race at Pocono in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, Montoya sits 12th in the standings, the last of Roger Penske’s four cars. The other three – Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Helio Castroneves – are 1-2-3, with Pagenaud and Power separated by just 58 points and Josef Newgarden 120 points behind Pagenaud in fourth.
“The gap to a different competitor from a different team is bigger (than last year). It might just come down to Simon and Will,” Montoya said. “I think we’ll be much better prepared going into the last race to make sure we all work together, and so we can win the championship as a team. We’ll see what happens.”
A year ago, Montoya led in points much of the season before losing the series title in the season finale to Scott Dixon, unable to make one last pass for position on the final lap to secure the championship. Dixon dominated a race worth double points to tie Montoya and was declared the champion because he had one more victory than the hard-driving Colombian.
“It sucks, but it is what it is. Move on, you know,” Montoya said.
Montoya returned to IndyCar two years ago after a 14-year stint in NASCAR, won at Pocono, and finished fourth in the championship. His contract with Penske is up after the season, and he said he is looking at three options, trying to decide the best fit for him personally.
“They’re going to wait until after the season to make a decision. We’ll see what happens,” Montoya said of Penske. “I think I’ve done a really good job. I won the Indy 500 for them last year. They hadn’t won it since `09. I nearly won the championship, but as a team we didn’t execute well enough.”
Carl Edwards won his second straight pole at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, leading Joe Gibbs Racing’s Olympic-style sweep of the top three spots in qualifying Friday for the Saturday night race.
Edwards had a fast lap of 131.407 mph on the concrete surface of the half-mile track. He bested teammates Denny Hamlin in second and Kyle Busch in third.
Austin Dillon took off on a final restart in overtime to win the Xfinity race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee after leaders Kyle Busch crashed and Brad Keselowski ran out of gas four laps from the scheduled end.
Dillon finished ahead of Justin Allgaier. Kyle Larson was third.
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