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article imageINDYCAR: Montoya gets first series win in nearly 14 years

By John Duarte     Jul 7, 2014 in Sports
Long Pond - Thirteen years, nine months and 20 days. That's how long Juan Pablo Montoya went between visits to the IndyCar “Victory Circle.” On Sunday, the Colombian made his return to IndyCar all that much sweeter when he won the Pocono IndyCar 500.
Granted, Montoya has spent his time between victories indulging his passion for auto racing in Formula 1 and NASCAR. He returned to IndyCar racing this year, after a 13-year absence. Only two other drivers went more that 10 years between Indy-car race wins. Elbert (Babe) Stapp won a race on Sept. 19, 1927, and didn't win again until Aug. 27, 1939, while John Paul Jr. won on Sept. 20, 1998, 15 years and nearly two months after his previous victory on July 17, 1983.
If one was be get technical, it was only 13 races between wins for Montoya. But that takes nothing away from his return to IndyCar racing. Just last weekend, after placing second in the first race of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, Montoya indicated his racing program was on the right track. He said it was “just a matter of time” before he returned to Victory Circle.
“I think the wins are coming,” he said after the Houston race. “I think once it clicks, it's going to click pretty well.”
Sunday at the Pocono Raceway, Montoya was true to his word. He showed he was the man to beat by being the top qualifier for the race. He led for 45 laps, including the final four, to beat teammate Helio Castroneves by over 2.34 seconds.
“This is fantastic. Things were going good, but you never know when you're going to get a win,” Montoya said. “We did the right things and got the win, and we're at a good place at this point of the season.”
Castroneves was quick to praise his teammate.
“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.”
Montoya has finished in the Top 5 in five races since his return to IndyCar and placed in the Top 10 in the 11 races to this point in the season. He now sits fourth in the drivers' standings, just 55 points behind the leaders. When asked if he was poised to make a run at the championship, which he won in 1999 when the series was known as CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams), Montoya simply smiled.
“I think people know I'm coming,” he said.
The Pocono race set a record in becoming the first 500-mile race in the series to post an average speed over 200 miles-per-hour and the third fastest in IndyCar history. There was only one caution period, lasting six laps, in the entire race. The run of 158 laps of green-flag racing was the longest in IndyCar history for a 500-mile race.
Carlos Muñoz finished third for the second time in three races.
Things are jumbled up at the top of the Verizon IndyCar Series standings, with the three Penske drivers all within 55 points of each other. Will Power and Castroneves are tied for the top spot in the series, while Montoya is in fourth place. The only driver keeping Team Penske from sweeping the top three spots is Simon Pagenaud, who is 44 points behind the leaders.
The next race on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule will next run under the lights on July 12, 2014, for the Iowa Corn Indy 300 at Iowa Speedway.
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