With all the criticism about race safety and that auto racing isn’t what it once was, these IndyCar drivers put on quite a show on Sunday. Juan Pablo Montoya’s Penske machine won the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 in an epic last 15 laps. It’s his second 500 victory in just three starts which puts Montoya in rare company. However it didn’t come easy. Montoya said it himself, “I had to work for this one.” He sure did. Montoya had two issues early on that would bump him back to 30th within the first 11 laps of the race. If anyone could have overcome early challenges, it would be him. The fans got their money’s worth. JPM and teammate Will Power put on a display in the last 15 laps, swapping the lead several times. Juan would have the last move with just 3 laps to go and Will Power could not get the run he needed to pass his teammate. Charlie Kimball made a surprise 3rd place finish, Scott Dixon was 4th, and Graham Rahal was 5th.
The sport could not have asked for a better race. The powers of the sport; Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves, Will Power, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Tony Kanaan were at the top all day long to provide constant drama. In all, the race saw 35 lead changes which is the second most in race history. That means 3 out of the last 4 years has set a lead change record. The most came in 2012 with over 60 lead changes. Why am I throwing all these statistics at you? To prove that IndyCar is better than ever. The constant uncertainty up front and multiple cars in contention, means the races are unpredictable. That’s exactly what you want! You never want a couple of drivers dominating. That has been more than the case for IndyCar.
JPM makes history in a variety of ways. Montoya is the first driver to win an Indy 500 for both Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi. He adds to his already impressive resume as an IndyCar, F1, and Nascar driver (arguably the three best racing platforms in the world). Juan also has the claim as the driver with the longest time in between two Indy 500 wins (15 years). So that begs the question, is JPM the best driver in the last 20 years? His resume won’t deny his strong case.
(Two post-race Montoya audio clips)