LONG POND, Pa. — official release — Chris Jones photo — Juan Pablo Montoya earned his first Indy car victory in nearly 14 years by prevailing in the Pocono INDYCAR 500 fueled by Sunoco at Pocono Raceway.
The race was the fastest 500-mile Indy car race in history as Montoya’s average speed of 202.402 mph surpassed the previous 500-mile record set by Jimmy Vasser (197.995 mph) at Auto Club Speedway in 2002.
The win marked Montoya’s first Indy car victory since Sept. 17, 2000 at Gateway International Raceway.
Montoya, who a day earlier became the eighth different Verizon P1 Award winner this season, became the eighth different race winner through 11 rounds of the Verizon IndyCar Series season. He’s the first to win from the pole this season.
“That’s great for Juan; what a great race he ran,” said team owner Roger Penske, who welcomed Montoya as the third driver at Team Penske this season after a 13-year absence in which he competed in Formula One and the NASCAR Cup Series.
Montoya, driving the No. 2 PPG Team Penske car, led teammate Helio Castroneves across the finish line of the 2.5-mile tri-oval by 2.3403 seconds. Rookie Carlos Munoz finished third for the third time this season and Ryan Briscoe finished a season-high fourth. Scott Dixon, the winner last year at Pocono Raceway, placed fifth.
“I want to thank Roger for believing in me after so many years out of an Indy car,” said Montoya, who claimed his third Indy car 500-mile race victory.
Only two other drivers in Indy car history since 1909 have gone more than 10 years between wins – John Paul Jr., who went more than 15 years between winning at Michigan and Texas Motor Speedway from 1983-98 and Babe Stapp did not win for nearly 12 years between Charlotte and Milwaukee from 1927-39.
The middle round of the Triple Crown series, which also includes the Indianapolis 500 and the season finale at Auto Club Speedway, carried double points. Castroneves was able to tie teammate Will Power, who led 69 laps but incurred a drive-through penalty on Lap 176 for blocking Castroneves, in the championship standings.
“Congrats to Montoya. Are you kidding me? This guy is unbelievable,” Castroneves said. “Coming back after all those years and winning a race? As soon as they signed him I knew he would be an asset, and a headache, for us. It’s good (to have a) 1-2 finish – and we’re tied in the championship. It’s unbelievable.”
Both Castroneves and Power are seeking their first series championship. Power, who had to pit for fuel on Lap 189, finished 10th.
Montoya inherited the lead on Lap 197 when Tony Kanaan, who led a field-high 78 laps, also had to pit for fuel. Kanaan, driving the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, led laps for the second race this season and for the 100th race in his Indy car career.
Kanaan led for the second time in 2014. He led one lap at the Indianapolis 500. It is his 100th race led in his Indy car career.