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article imageINDYCAR: Montoya repeats at Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

By John Duarte     Mar 14, 2016 in Sports
St. Petersburg - The 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series has started just like the 2015 season, with Juan Pablo Montoya driving into “Victory Lane” at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Montoya controlled the latter half of the IndyCar race through the streets of the Florida city to repeat as winner at the opening race of the Verizon IndyCar Series season. And, just like last year, Montoya led a 1-2 finish for Team Penske, with teammate Simon Pagenaud taking second place.
Montoya was in great spirits after the race. Although he never said as much, Montoya is very much looking for a different outcome to the Verizon IndyCar Series season as opposed to the 2015 result. After winning the opening race last year, Montoya proceeded to lead the driver standings through the season, only to lose the championship to Scott Dixon on the final race of year.
Montoya would have you believe that is forgotten, but that is not likely the case. But a new year means a restart to the championship run and Montoya feels like he is ready.
“It's awesome,” he said. “We started the year last year like this. I felt this morning we had a really good car and it paid off.”
When prompted for a prediction to the season ahead and whether he could also go back-to-back at the Indianapolis 500, in May, Montoya was direct.
“We're here to win everything,” he said.
Race runner-up Pagenaud was also happy to start off the new season on a high note — finishing on the podium while representing a new sponsor and leading the race's first 48 laps.
“Overall, it was a great day,” he said. “If you compare to last year, it's been a massive improvement.”
Finishing third in the race was Ryan Hunter-Reay, who said the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is never easy.
“It's always physical here. This is one of those tracks that really takes it out of you,” he said, adding it is a great way to head into the year ahead. “This is a good way to start the season. That was a small, tiny little victory for us.”
Hunter-Reay actually broke up what was looking like to be a Team Penske podium sweep when he got by Helio Castroneves with three laps remaining in the race.
The second race, on the 16-race Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, is the Phoenix Grand Prix, which races under the lights at Phoenix International Raceway, in Arizona, on April 2. The 2016 season will visit a new location, the Grand Prix of Boston (Sept. 4) and return to two old ones, Phoenix International Raceway (April 2), where it hasn't been since 2005, and Road America (June 26), which will see the first IndyCar race since 2007. The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 will run on May 29 and the series schedule will close on Sept. 18 at Sonoma Raceway, in California.
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